Three years after he survived an assassination attempt, Tanzania’s main opposition chose Tundu Lissu as its candidate to run for president.
The 52-year-old human-rights lawyer will run against John Magufuli, who’s seeking a second term after five years in power that critics say has been marred by a crackdown on civil liberties and political dissent.
While Magufuli is expected to comfortably win the elections, he may face a strong challenge if smaller opposition parties unite behind a single candidate.
Lissu beat two other contestants in a landslide victory in the opposition Chadema party’s primary elections. He was officially endorsed by the party’s general council.
Lissu returned to Tanzania from exile in Belgium, where he’s been receiving medical attention after the September 2017 attempt on his life. He was shot 16 times by unidentified gunmen at his residence in the capital, Dodoma, and was initially flown to Kenya for life-saving surgery.
No one has been arrested in connection with the attack.
Magufuli, 60, has pledged peaceful and credible elections. Opposition leaders say the deck is heavily stacked against them because of the absence of an independent electoral body and the possibility that international observers won’t oversee the polls amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Since coming to power, Magufuli has boosted government revenue, moved to reform the mining industry and increased spending on infrastructure including roads, railways and power plants. He denies cracking down on the opposition.
Lissu, alongside opposition leader and former Foreign Minister Bernard Membe, are the biggest challengers to Magufuli’s re-election bid. The vote in the gold- and gas-rich East African nation is scheduled for October 28.