Tanzania’s two main opposition parties have called for a rerun of 28th October’s polls alleging widespread fraud after populist President, John Magufuli was declared the winner for a second five-year term by the National Electoral Commission
The CHADEMA and ACT Wazalendo parties held a joint news conference a few hours after President Magufuli was declared the winner with 12.5 million votes, or 84 percent, while top opposition candidate, Tundu Lissu of the CHADEMA party received 1.9 million votes, or 13 percent.
The governing party also secured nearly every seat in parliament, giving it the power to change the country’s constitution.
CHADEMA chairman, Freeman Mbowe told reporters that, “what happened on October 28 was not an election but a butchering of democracy.
“We demand the election repeated with immediate effect and the dissolving of the national electoral commission.”
He also added that more than 20 people were killed during the election.
ACT-Wazalendo leader, Zitto Kabwe added the decision was for “the future of our country”.
“We cannot accept going back to a one-party system,” he warned.
The opposition has also urged people to come onto the streets for peaceful protests on 2nd November.
It has alleged widespread irregularities before and during the vote in the East African nation, including rejection of thousands of election observers, a considerable slowdown in the internet speed and affecting text messaging services and ballot-box stuffing.
The vote “marked the most significant backsliding in Tanzania’s democratic credentials”, Tanzania Elections Watch, a group of regional experts, said in an assessment released on 30th October. It noted a heavy deployment of military and police whose conduct created a “climate of fear”.
“The electoral process, so far, falls way below the acceptable international standards” for holding free and fair elections, the group added.
Few international observers were allowed to watch the vote. The US assistant secretary of state for African affairs, Tibor Nagy tweeted, “We remain deeply concerned about reports of systematic interference in the democratic process”.
“We continue to review credible allegations of the use of force against unarmed civilians.”
The US embassy in the East African country had earlier acknowledged that there had been “credible allegations of significant election-related fraud and intimidation” in the vote for a president and politicians.
The commission also denied allegations of fake ballots on the Election Day, saying they were unofficial and unsubstantiated
However, observers say Tanzania’s reputation for democratic ideals is crumbling, with Magufuli accused of severely stifling dissenting voices in his first five-year term. Opposition political gatherings were banned in 2016, the year after he took office. Media outlets have been targeted.
Zitto Kabwe, leader of the main opposition party in Zanzibar, ACT-Wazalendo, and Chadema’s leader in parliament, Freeman Mbowe were among dozens of opposition candidates who lost their seats to the ruling party.
The fear of post-election violence lingers as many Tanzanians watch in dismay.
“29 #October 2020: One of the most gloomy days in the political #history of #Tanzania,” tweeted Chambi Chachage, a lecturer in African studies at Princeton University.
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