Tanzanian opposition leader and former presidential candidate Tundu Lissu returned home after more than two years in exile in Europe to a cheering crowd on Wednesday

A former lawmaker and a fierce critic of the government, Lissu initially left the country to seek treatment abroad after he was shot 16 times,

mostly in his lower abdomen, in his car by unknown gunmen in the administrative capital Dodoma in 2017.

He had been arrested eight times in the year leading up to the attack. Lissu was welcomed by a large gathering of his supporters at the Julius Nyerere International Airport,

after flying in from Brussels before making his way to address a rally in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam.

He was seen waving his Chadema party flag while sitting atop a car as he greeted supporters who had gathered along the roads and were following him on foot, cars and motorcycles.

His return follows President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s announcement this month of the end of a ban on political rallies imposed by her hardline predecessor Magufuli, in an overture to the opposition.