Former Tanzanian presidential candidate Tundu Lissu has lauded a move by the US to impose sanctions on officials accused of undermining democracy during the October 2020, General Election.
In a statement on Tuesday, US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, announced visa restrictions on Tanzanian officials “responsible for or complicit in undermining Tanzania’s October 28, 2020, general elections.”
Pompeo said the actions of the unnamed officials subverted the electoral process, continuing the downward trajectory of the country’s democracy.
“Election observers and civil society noted widespread irregularities as well as human rights abuses and violations before, during, and after the election.
“Opposition candidates were routinely disqualified, harassed, and arrested. Significant and widespread voting irregularities, internet disruptions, intimidation of journalists, and violence by security forces made this election neither free nor fair, ” the statement reads.
Under President John Pombe Magufuli’s administration, Pompeo noted, civil society leaders remain under threat in the post-election period with opposition leaders fleeing the country out of fear.
He called on the Tanzanian authorities to reverse course and hold accountable those responsible for the flawed election, violence, and intimidation.
“The United States will continue to closely follow developments in Tanzania and will not hesitate to take additional actions against individuals complicit in undermining democracy and violating human rights, ” said Pompeo.
“Finally, we emphasize that today’s actions are not directed at the Tanzanian people. We commend Tanzanians who participated in the election peacefully and in good faith, and we will work together with all those committed to advancing democracy, human rights, and mutual prosperity.”
Lissu, who fled the county to exile in Belgium a week after the chaotic polls, said in a tweet that the sanctions are a clear warning to dictators in Tanzania and neighbouring country Uganda keen on clinging on to power.
“On the last day of the Trump Administration and the eve of the Biden’s, the US has sent a clear and unmistakable warning to dictators who stole elections in Tanzania and Uganda: No impunity for your violent and fraudulent actions! And there’s more to come!” the Chadema leader, who had in November last year asked the international community to impose sanctions on Magufuli for rigging the election, exclaimed.
On the last day of the Trump Administration and the eve of the Biden's, the US has sent clear and unmistakeable warning to dictators who stole elections in Tanzania and Uganda: No impunity for your violent and fraudulent actions! And there's more to come! https://t.co/95H7o52eAe
— Tundu Antiphas Lissu (@TunduALissu) January 19, 2021
Uganda held its election last week with President Yoweri Museveni securing a sixth term in office amid rigging claims.