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Tanzanian Opposition Leaders Arrested Ahead Of “Illegitimate” Poll Protests

Chadema chairman Freeman Mbowe [Photo/Courtesy]

Tanzania’s opposition leader Freeman Mbowe has reportedly been arrested ahead of planned protests over recent General Election marred by fraud claims.

The Chadema national chairman is said to be among several opposition figures arrested last night, just hours before the protests that were scheduled to begin today across the country.

Former member of parliament Godbless Lema, the former mayor of Dar es Salaam, Isaya Mwita, and the former mayor of Ubungo municipality, Boniface Jacob, are among those who are said to be in police custody.

According to Emmanuel Mvula, campaign manager with the ACT Wazalendo party, there was a heavy deployment of security forces in the commercial hub of Dar es Salaam, where the two main opposition parties planned to march to the National Electoral Commission (NEC) offices.

Mvula told members of the press that those arrested are accused of organising illegal demonstrations.

Read: President-elect Magufuli Asks Tanzanians To Go Back To Work As He Receives Winner’s Certificate

“If you ask for permission (to protest), they tell you No,’” he said.

The opposition leaders had been warned against going on with the demonstrations after their declaration on Saturday.

The leaders accuse President-elect John Pombe Magufuli’s party Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) of having rigged the poll using state machinery.

NEC Chairman Semistocles Kaijage declared Magufuli the winner of this year’s presidential election for a second term on Friday with 12.5 million votes (84%) amid strong opposition from his main challenger Tundu Lissu who came in second with 1.9 million votes (13%).

Read Also: Tundu Lissu Says He Won’t Accept Election Results, Calls For Mass Action

The poll was marred by claims of arrests, restricted access to polling stations, multiple voting, pre-ticking of ballots and widespread blocking of social media.

In a joint press statement on Saturday, Chadema and ACT Wazalendo parties called for a fresh election and disbandment of the electoral commission

“In our unity, we believe that what happened on October 28, 2020, has no merit or legitimacy to be called a general election, but it is the usurpation and looting of Tanzanians’ right to elect their leaders through democratic means …,” said Mbowe.

Read Also: Tanzania’s John Pombe Magufuli Declared President In Election Marred By Fraud Claims

“We demand the disbanding of the National Election Commission (NEC) and Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) and the creation of independent electoral commissions to oversee a repeat of the general election.”

Magufuli will take oath of office on Thursday, November 5, 2020, at Jamhuri Stadium in Dodoma.

Yesterday, the president-elect called on Tanzanians to go back to work saying the election is over.

“Sasa uchaguzi umekwisha kilichobaki ni kuchapa kazi (the election is now over let us build our country), ” he said.

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Written by Wycliffe Nyamasege


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