Authorities in Tanzania must ensure that people are able to express grievances over the recent elections “without fear of reprisals,” the UN rights chief said on Tuesday.

“The tense situation in the country will not be defused by silencing those who challenge the outcome of the elections, but rather through a participatory dialogue,” Michelle Bachelet, UN high commissioner for human rights, said in a statement.

Her remarks came amid continuing unrest in Tanzania over President John Magufuli’s controversial win in the late October general elections.

The statement cited reports saying that at least 150 opposition leaders and members have been arrested since Oct. 27, after the opposition’s call for protests against the election results, with at least 18 of them still in custody.

Bachelet called for “prompt, thorough, independent, and impartial investigations into all allegations of human rights violations before, during and after the polls – particularly into the killing of at least 10 people and the injuries sustained by over 50 others in Zanzibar.”

“I urge the Tanzanian authorities to respect and facilitate exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly,” she said.

The UN official also expressed concern over internet restrictions imposed in the country, “including the blocking of many social media and messaging platforms, and the censoring of election-related content.”

“Free flow of information is critical to any democratic society, and especially so in an electoral context,” she said.

– Disputed polls

Oppression against opposition in Tanzania has escalated since President Magufuli won a second five-year term following the Oct. 28 polls.

According to the official results, Magufuli secured 84% of all votes, with his main opponent Tundu Lissu securing just 13%.

Earlier this month, Tanzania’s main opposition leader Freeman Mbowe and other party officials were arrested ahead of a planned countrywide protest.

Opposition candidate Lissu has reportedly sought political asylum after taking refuge in the German Embassy in Dar es Salaam, following threats to his life.

Lissu, who returned to Tanzania in July after a three-year self-exile in Belgium, where he was recovering from 16 bullet wounds sustained in an assassination attempt, has denounced the polls as a “travesty.”

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