Tanzania’s presidential hopeful Tundu Lissu’s lawyers are now asking the Commonwealth Secretariat and the African Union to investigate claims of electoral fraud, violence, and human rights violations that characterised the Wednesday, October 28 General Election.
In a press statement on Wednesday night, Robert Amsterdam, founding partner of Amsterdam & Partners LLP, which represents the Chadema candidate, said the irregularities delegitimized yesterday’s presidential poll.
In a letter to the bodies, Mr Amsterdam urged member nations to withhold recognition of the fraudulent results.
“On election day we witnessed President John Magufuli and the CCM government administer a death blow to Tanzania’s democracy,” said Mr Amsterdam.
“We have documented cases of ballot stuffing throughout the country, use of violence and intimidation including murder, (sexual assault), and use of mercenaries, widespread irregularities, illegal disqualifications of candidates, and sweeping unlawful arrests and detentions of poll monitors.”
He raised concerns that the election rigging could provoke escalating violent exchanges between protesters and the Magufuli regime’s security forces.
“John Pombe Magufuli is no longer a legitimate president, and without immediate means to deliver a fair democratic process, we are most worried that the situation in Tanzania could make #EndSARS protests in Nigeria look tame by comparison,” said Mr Amsterdam.
Yesterday Lissu and other opposition leaders said that stuffed ballot boxes had been seized in Kawe.
The leaders claimed that agents for the opposition Chadema were denied entry into the polling stations over claims that they did not possess introductory letters from the returning officer.
“Voting reports indicate widespread irregularities in the form of preventing our polling agents from accessing polling stations. Stuffed ballot boxes seized in Kawe, Dar. If this continues, mass democratic action will be the only option to protect the integrity of the election, ” said Lissu.
Voting reports indicate widespread irregularities in the form of preventing our polling agents from accessing polling stations. Stuffed ballot boxes seized in Kawe, Dar. If this continues, mass democratic action will be the only option to protect the integrity of the election.
— Tundu Antiphas Lissu (@TunduALissu) October 28, 2020
There were also reports of internet restrictions in the country with Twitter terming the move by authorities as a violation of basic human rights.
“Ahead of tomorrow’s election in #Tanzania, we’re seeing some blocking and throttling of Twitter. #TanzaniaDecides2020. Internet shutdowns are hugely harmful, and violate basic human rights and the principles of the #OpenInternet #KeepItOn, ” Twitter said on Tuesday night.
— Twitter Public Policy (@Policy) October 27, 2020
Magufuli is fighting to defend his seat amid strong opposition from Lissu.
The presidential race attracted a total of 15 candidates including former Foreign Minister Bernard Membe and economist-turned-politician Ibrahim Lipumba.
Results from the presidential and parliamentary elections are expected within a week.