Dar es Salaam. The Registrar of Political Parties, Mr Francis Mutungi, yesterday asked security agencies to act after a news conference called by CUF was violently disrupted last weekend.
He said the perpetrators should be identified, arrested and made to face the full force of the law.
Masked men stormed Saturday’s press conference at a hotel in Kinondoni, Dar es Salaam, and several people, including journalists, were attacked and injured.
The incident has raised concern that acts of violence were now becoming synonymous with CUF. Mr Mutungi was yesterday the latest high-profile figure to add his voice to the chorus of condemnation.
“I strongly condemn the senseless violence, which threatened peace and security and left innocent people injured,” he said in a statement.
Mr Mutungi added that his office and the Police Force were there to handle any complaint about the running and activities of political parties, adding that there was no need for CUF members to turn to violence in flagrant disregard of the law.
“I would also like to remind political parties that they are not above the law. They are supposed to respect and obey the country’s laws for the sake of preserving our peace and security,” Mr Mutungi said.
CUF secretary-general Seif Shariff Hamad also strongly condemned the storming of Saturday’s press conference by “hired criminals”.
He apologised to the Tanzania Editors Forum and journalists in general for what happened.
Mr Hamad asked the Police Force to arrest and those behind the pandemonium and swiftly bring them to justice, saying the incident had caused fear and anxiety among the public.
Meanwhile, CUF interim chairman Julius Mtatiro wrote on his Facebook page that they met with Dar es Salaam Special Police Zone Commander Simon Sirro and handed over to him evidence of all “criminal” acts committed against the party since August, last year, adding that the perpetrators were being protected.
“We also discussed in detail Saturday’s invasion and demanded that appropriate measures be taken immediately,” said Mr Mtatiro.
Mr Sirro said in a press briefing later yesterday that three people had been arrested in connection with Saturday’s incident.
“No group is allowed attack other people...if a person feels they are aggrieved, they are supposed to seek legal redress. People suspected of habouring criminal intent should be reported at the nearest police station. People must not take the law into their own hands. Nobody is above the law,” he said.
CUF has in recent months been embroiled in a protracted conflict which has split the party into two factions supporting Seif and chairman Ibrahim Lipumba.
Despite being expelled from the party by the Hamad faction, Prof Lipumba insists that he is still chairman.
Mr Mutungi said last year that he still recognised Prof Lipumba as CUF’s bona fide chairman, prompting Mr Hamad to accuse the registrar of fanning conflict within the party.