Tanzania’s opposition calls protests against contested polls
Published : Saturday, 31 October, 2020 at 9:56 PM Count : 117
Tanzania’s opposition on Saturday called on supporters to take to the streets to protest President John Magufuli’s landslide election victory, which it says was fraudulent, demanding a fresh vote.
Magufuli was declared the winner Friday with a crushing 84 percent of votes, while his Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) ruling party took 97 percent of the 264 elected parliament seats.
The country’s two main opposition groups, Chadema of defeated presidential candidate Tundu Lissu, and ACT-Wazalendo, held a joint press conference in Dar es Salaam in which they denounced the election and called their supporters to action.
“Firstly, we call for fresh elections as soon as possible. Whatever happened is not an election,” Chadema chairman Freeman Mbowe said.
“We call for continuous, peaceful, countrywide demonstrations until our demands are met,” he said, adding these would begin on Monday.
ACT-Wazalendo leader Zitto Kabwe said the decision was for “the future of our country”.
“We cannot accept going back to a one-party system. God willing we will win in this war.”
Democracy was introduced in 1994 and Tanzania has been seen as a haven of stability in a volatile neighbourhood but critics have raised alarm over a slide into autocracy under Magufuli.
The 61-year-old, nicknamed “The Bulldozer”, was in his first term accused of flouting due process and brooking no criticism.
His main opponent this time around, Lissu, won only 13 percent of the vote, after denouncing widespread fraud and intimidation of the opposition during the election and following years of repression and jailing of government opponents.
Lissu, who returned to Tanzania in July after three years abroad recovering from 16 bullet wounds sustained in an assassination attempt, said his party’s agents had been kicked out of polling stations and that there had been ballot box stuffing.
In 2015, Magufuli won with 58 percent of the vote.
The outcome of Wednesday’s vote will further cement the power of a party that has been in power since independence in 1961.
The opposition parties again asked the international community not to recognise the result.