Arusha tense as vote counting starts in heavily contested by-elections

Sunday August 12 2018

Regional Police Commander Ramadhani Ng'anzi.

Regional Police Commander Ramadhani Ng'anzi. Photo|File 

By Zephania Ubwani @ubwanizg3

Arusha. Counting of votes for a by-election in four wards within Arusha started Sunday as the city remained tense over the fracas which started shortly after voting began. 

Some people believed to be followers of the opposition Chadema and the ruling party CCM were reported to have sustained bruises during apparent clashes between supporters of the two parties near the polling stations.

However, reports that the Arusha Urban Member of Parliament, Godbless Lema, was beaten could not be verified although the outspoken legislator was seen near the Kaloleni voting station with his supporters who later had altercation with CCM followers.

The Regional Police Commander Ramadhani Ng'anzi confirmed reports that one person had been stabbed with a knife. He refuted reports that he was a Chadema follower.

"It is true somebody has sustained knife injuries but not a Chadema member,” he said, adding that a group of people were behind the attack on a voter believed to be a CCM follower.

His narration differed with that of the Arusha City Mayor Kalist Lazaro (a Chadema councillor for Sokoni One ward) who spoke from the Mt. Meru Hospital where one of Chadema's polling agents identified only as Ibra had been hospitalized after what appeared to be knife attacks.

Other reports had it that Iddi Mukuluu, the CCM chairperson for Kaloleni ward, one of the four hosting a by-election, also had knife injuries on his hand.

The by-election also took place in Daraja Mbili, Terrat and Osinyai wards in Arusha city. This followed the defection of councillors from the opposition Chadema to CCM.

According to the RPC, police are investigating the reported clashes and knife attacks in Kaloleni ward which bore the brunt of the showdown between supporters of the two political sides.

Chadema claimed that its aspirant for the Kaloleni seat Boniface Kimaro was beaten alongside with two polling agents and has been admitted in hospital. 

No ugly incidents were reported in the three other wards although reports abound that a vehicle belonging to a Chadema aspirant had been stoned and windscreens smashed. 

A CCM official in Arusha district, Abraham Mollel appealed for calm from supporters of both sides and for police to enhance security.

Arusha city, the stronghold of the opposition, has often turned tense during elections and by-elections violent protests have in the past led to loss of lives.