Tanzania’s opposition candidate calls election a “travesty”

TANZANIA’S leading opposition presidential candidate urged countries around the world on Thursday not to recognise the eventual results of an election held the previous day, calling it a “travesty” due to widespread irregularities.

Tundu Lissu, the main challenger to incumbent President John Magufuli, told Reuters the defects in the process meant that the results – expected within a week – could not be trusted.

Magufuli is seeking a second, five-year term in presidential and parliamentary polls marked by complaints of restricted internet access and accusations of fraud.

Tundu Lissu addressing the parliament of Tanzania in Dodoma. Photo Likumbage

“The results should not be recognised by any country in the world, should not be recognised by the African Union and the Commonwealth,” Lissu told Reuters. He urged the world to take action against “those who perpetrated this travesty”.

Officials at the electoral commission were not immediately available for comment. On Wednesday, the Commission denied allegations of fake ballots, saying they were unofficial and unsubstantiated.

In the semi-autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar, the opposition ACT-Wazalendo’s presidential candidate, Seif Sharif Hamad, and other leaders were arrested, his party said after he called for protests.

An aide to the police commander in Mjini Magharibi where Hamad and others were reportedly arrested said his boss was in a meeting when Reuters sought comment.

‘MOCKERY’

Lissu, 52, was shot 16 times in 2017 in what remains an unsolved case. He returned from three years in exile in July.

Lissu said his party’s representatives had been prevented from getting into polling stations and that stuffed ballots had been forced into vote boxes across the East African country.

“This was a mockery of elections, a mockery of democracy,” he said. “We are not accepting anything that has been done, and any results,” he later told reporters.

President John Pombe Magufuli of Tanzania makes his address at the 17th Summit of EAC Heads of State. Photo source: Paul Kagame

Magufuli, 61, is looking to extend the rule of the CCM party, a version of which has held power since independence from Britain in 1961. It won the presidency with 58% of votes in 2015 and now holds about three-quarters of parliamentary seats.

In the race for the 264 parliamentary seats up for a vote, the leader of the opposition in the assembly, Freeman Mbowe, lost his Hai seat in the north to his CCM challenger Saashisha Mafuwe, state broadcaster TBC reported.

While campaigning, Magufuli pledged to boost growth in East Africa’s third largest economy with infrastructure projects kickstarted in his first term.

But the opposition and rights groups have complained that his administration has cracked down on critical voices, closing down media outlets and preventing opposition public rallies. – Thomson Reuters Foundation.