Nairobi. Tanzanian opposition Chief Whip Tundu Lissu, who was wounded in a gun attack outside his Dodoma home, is in stable but critical condition at a hospital in Nairobi, Kenya.
Chadema Party leader Freeman Mbowe said the firebrand opposition leader had been airlifted to the Nairobi Hospital in the Kenyan capital last night after his condition worsened amid concerns on his security.
He said the Tanzanian government had allowed his transfer to Dar es Salaam but the leader’s family and party colleagues decided on Nairobi which is nearer to Dodoma by plane.
“We decided to fly him to Nairobi because we were not sure he would survive the long trip to Dar es Salaam in his critical condition,” said Mr Mbowe.
The Chadema leader, who accompanied Mr Lissu to Nairobi, said the parliamentarian had been shot several times in the attack, adding that he had required two blood transfusions.
The politician’s car was sprayed with bullets in the Wednesday attack.
“Mr Lissu had bullet fragments in his arms, legs and back at the time of arrival in hospital,’’ “ said Mr Mbowe.
He discounted a possible gang attack on the politician, saying Mr Lissu did not have any known enemies outside political circles.
“We suspect a political motive behind the attack since the assailants were using SMG machine guns. The number of rounds fired indicates an intention to kill him as opposed to an ordinary robbery attempt, said Mr Mbowe.
He said the politician had complained of being trailed by security vehicles.
“We do not know of anyone who could have had a grudge with the chief whip outside of the political area. He had complained to the Chief of Police, the security minister about being trailed by state security vehicles but they had turned a deaf ear to his fears,” said Mr Mbowe.
He termed the attack the latest in a long line of incidents involving harassment and intimidation of opposition politicians and dissidents in Tanzania.
“Although this is the first time one of us has been shot at, we are seeing this as a continuation in a pattern of harassment and intimidation of the government’s critics. Being a member of the opposition is simply not safe in Tanzania,” said Mr Mbowe.
He said the attackers did not steal anything from the opposition leader, adding that it was a clear indicator that the attack was purely motivated by political issues.
“Had they been thugs they would have at least stolen his laptop or other valuables. The fact that they fired all those rounds of ammunition before speeding off is an indicator that this is violent politics at play,” said Mr Mbowe.
Former Law Society of Kenya chairman and Pan African Lawyers’ Union deputy chair Mr Eric mutua called on the Kenyan government to protect the politician.
‘’We are not sure whether the people who tried to kill him in Tanzania will not attempt to complete their mission in Kenya. It is important that Mr. Lissu be protected by police officers so as to safeguard his life,’’ said Mr. Mutua.