Tanzania’s opposition parties on Wednesday declared they would join forces in a campaign against the “dictatorship” of President John Magufuli.

“The government has launched a war against opposition parties,” six groups said in a joint statement issued after a four-day meeting.

“We declare the year 2019 will be the year in which we fight for democracy, the year in which we fight to recover our rights which have been trampled upon in breach of the law and the constitution.”

The meeting brought together the four opposition parties represented in parliament, and two smaller parties.

“It has become customary for the head of state and his supporters to treat opposition leaders or any person critical of the government as agents of foreign powers, as people without patriotism,” the statement said.

“That’s enough! The time has come to strengthen our unity and solidarity to fight this dictatorship.”

The parties called on their followers to “overcome fear, be united to protect democracy in our country”.

The statement said the parties were legally recognised and would campaign within the limits of the law.

“We are going to officially publish the schedule for our public rallies in all corners of the country, we will not yield to any legally unfounded ban,” the statement said.

Critics say Magufuli has unleashed a wave of oppression since his election in 2015, cracking down on opposition figures, the media and gays.

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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