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World Tanzania to hold election marred by violence, concerns over fairness

05:15  28 october  2020
05:15  28 october  2020 Source:   msn.com

Tanzanians to vote as alarm soars over stifling of democracy

  Tanzanians to vote as alarm soars over stifling of democracy Tanzanians head to the polls on Wednesday in an election set to be a litmus test of President John Magufuli's authoritarian style after a five-year crackdown on the opposition and freedom of speech. In a boost for the opposition's chances, Zitto Kabwe, the head of the popular ACT-Wazalendo party, this month endorsed Lissu for the presidency on the mainland, saying he "stands the best chance of beating President Magufuli in the presidential election.

Tanzanian President John Magufuli. Picture: REUTERS/THOMAS MUKOYA. The 61-year-old Tanzanian president is seeking a second term in an unusually tight election on Wednesday that has seen a resurgence of his opponents — some of whom have joined forces — despite a ban on their

US Ambassador to Tanzania Donald Wright said he was "alarmed by reports from Zanzibar and elsewhere of violence , deaths and detentions". In Zanzibar, residents vote for the islands' leaders, including the election of a Zanzibari president, as well as in Tanzania 's national election .

Tanzanians will vote Wednesday amid rising concern for democracy under President John Magufuli, who is seeking a second term, and with tensions high in volatile Zanzibar, where violence erupted ahead of the vote.

a group of people standing around a table: Zanzibar held an early vote for security forces Tuesday which prompted violence © Patrick Meinhardt Zanzibar held an early vote for security forces Tuesday which prompted violence a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Supporters of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party hold their last campaign rally ahead of the election. The party has been in power since 1961 © Patrick Meinhardt Supporters of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party hold their last campaign rally ahead of the election. The party has been in power since 1961

Long deemed a haven of stability in East Africa, observers say Tanzania has seen a worrying crackdown on the opposition and freedom of speech under the 60-year-old Magufuli and his Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party, which has been in power since 1961.

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US concerned about 'tense' Tanzania elections . The US ambassador to Tanzania Donald J Disputes over exports of sugar in the region, or the current dispute between Tanzania and Uganda over In an interview with BBC Swahili, Mr Johari said the Tanzanian aviation authorities will hold a

Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, has also expressed the same concerns as Collins and voted against a procedural motion to advance Barrett's nomination on Sunday, but she voted for the nominee Monday after saying she would not hold her process objections against Barrett.

Gary Jenkins wearing sunglasses: Tanzania's incumbent President John Magufuli, left, will be challenged by Tundu Lissu, right, who was shot 16 times in a 2017 attack © ERICKY BONIPHACE Tanzania's incumbent President John Magufuli, left, will be challenged by Tundu Lissu, right, who was shot 16 times in a 2017 attack

Magufuli is counting on his ambitious programme of infrastructure development and fiery anti-corruption stance to secure him a second mandate and called for a peaceful vote.

"For those who qualify, vote and go home. Let the electoral body do its work. Peace is very important and I pray it dominates the polls," he said Tuesday.

Magufuli's main challenger among 15 presidential candidates is Tundu Lissu, 52, of the Chadema opposition party.

He returned to the country in July after three years abroad recovering from 16 bullet wounds sustained in what he believes was a politically-motivated assassination attempt.

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Map of Tanzania © Vincent LEFAI Map of Tanzania

Lissu's return has reinvigorated an opposition demoralised by a ban on political rallies outside of election time, multiple arrests, attacks, and what rights groups have slammed as the squeezing of democracy.

"I have witnessed through the campaign that Tanzanians are ready for changes and I believe they will turn out to vote tomorrow," he said at his final rally.

- Early vote -

In a boost for the opposition's chances, Zitto Kabwe, the head of the popular ACT-Wazalendo party, has endorsed Lissu for the presidency on the mainland.


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In return, Chadema is backing veteran opposition candidate Seif Sharif Hamad in his sixth bid for the presidency in Zanzibar, this time against CCM candidate Hussein Ali Hassan Mwinyi.

Zanzibar has a history of tense elections plagued with violence and irregularities and the opposition has again accused the ruling party of seeking to steal the vote.

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The archipelago held an early vote for security forces Tuesday which prompted violence that the opposition says left 10 dead and scores injured.

"How can you have an election were you have teargas everywhere and live ammunition? It is in no case a fair election, it is just a farce," said Hamad.

Trucks loaded with soldiers, police and a militia linked to the ruling party known as "zombies" -- clad in black with their faces covered by bandanas -- whizzed throughout the city and on Tuesday were seen rounding up and beating several civilians.

"I'm alarmed by reports from Zanzibar and elsewhere of violence, deaths, and detentions," United States ambassador Donald Wright wrote on Twitter.

Britain's envoy, David Concar, urged "all involved in the elections to act with restraint and integrity to ensure the will of the people can be expressed peacefully at the ballot box".

- Increasing intolerance -

Magufuli, elected in 2015, at first made wildly popular moves such as curbing foreign travel for government officials or showing up in person to make sure civil servants were doing their work.

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Doubts about the fairness of November's vote come as another high-stakes political battle is fought - on whether or not to appoint a new Supreme Court justice before the election . The number of postal votes is expected to rise significantly this time round due to public health concerns over coronavirus.

US Republican leaders say there will be an "orderly" transfer of power should Donald Trump lose November's election . President Trump cast doubt on the transition on Wednesday, questioning the probity of the vote with so many ballots likely to be cast by mail.

Then, he banned political rallies and became increasingly intolerant of dissent.

A series of tough media laws were passed, arrests of journalists, activists and opposition members soared and several opposition members were killed.

The opposition and analysts have expressed serious concerns about the fairness of the election, pointing in particular to a polls body comprising commissioners personally appointed by Magufuli.

Magufuli touts his expansion of free education, rural electrification and infrastructure projects such as railways, a hydropower dam set to double electricity output and the revival of the national airline.

However analysts say while the economy grew at an impressive pre-coronavirus average of six percent, there was little job creation and aggressive tax collection has hurt the private sector and made doing business harder.

The IMF expects growth to slow to 1.9 percent this year.

The election campaign has taken place with little regard to the coronavirus pandemic. Tanzania stopped giving out official data on infection numbers in April, and Magufuli has declared the country Covid-free, which he attributes to the power of prayer.

On the mainland, just over 29 million registered voters will cast their ballots, while some 566,000 will vote in Zanzibar from 7 am (0400 GMT) until 4 pm (1300 GMT).

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