Fiery Tanzanian politician Godbless Lema who was arrested in Kenya on Sunday has been released.
Lema, the immediate former MP for Arusha Urban Constituency, was apprehended by Kenyan authorities at the Namanga border together with his wife and three kids.
Lema fled his country a few days after President John Pombe Magufuli was sworn-in for a second term for fear of political persecution.
Lema, a key leader of Chadema party and a critic of Magufuli, fled his home in a taxi that drove them to the Namaga border where they alighted.
Kenyan law enforcement officers arrested him and his family due to a lack of requisite documents to enter Kenya and were facing deportation.
But the Amnesty International Kenya protested the planned deportation of Lema, saying the government should process him asylum and free him.
Amnesty Kenya Executive Director Houghton Irungu said deporting him would be a violation of the principle of non-refoulment, an international principle subscribed by Kenya. The principle prohibits a country from returning people to a country where they would be at risk of persecution or danger.
NTV reported that Lema was freed unconditionally from Kajiado Police Station on Tuesday and has been allowed to live in the country under an asylum program.
Addressing reporters after his release, the former MP said he fled his country after receiving reports that there was a plot to assassinate him.
“I could not take such reports jokingly because I have lost a lot of friends and others are still missing. I knew they will kill me and that is why I fled with my wife and three children who are already in Nairobi,” he said.
“Let it be known that I am not fleeing hunger from my country. I am also not looking for a job. I am running to save my life.”
There has been a crackdown on opposition leaders since President Magufuli was re-elected in the recently concluded Tanzanian general election.
Before, during, and after the election, key opposition leaders among them Chadema’s presidential candidate Tundu Lissu were arrested and detained.