Dar es Salaam. Flaws noticed in the just ended by-elections in 43 wards across the country may recur in the 2020 General Election and mar the turnout of the electorate.
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Legal and Human Rights Centre (HRC) acting executive director Anna Henga said the flaws set a bad precedent for future elections and if left unchallenged they would lead to the breach of the peace.
The LHRC outlined the flaws in the November 26 by-elections, including a violation of human rights, improper use of security organs and abductions by unidentified people. It cited other flaws as arresting and torturing opposition leaders and forcefully removing opposition agents from polling stations, something that proved there were deliberate attempts to spoil the by-elections process by intimidating voters. “We will witness growing revenge and political hate among people in the community, which could disrupt peace and security in the country,” she noted.
Speaking on abductions, arrests and assaults on political leaders and agents, Ms Henga said some opposition leaders, including Chadema district secretary in Ubungo, Mr Boniface Jacob, were arrested by the police without good reasons.
According to her, CCM district secretary in Itimila District, Simiyu Region, too was attacked by people believed to be Chadema supporters. “Reports that agents representing opposition candidates were chased from polling stations indicate that there were deliberate attempts to make the by-elections unfair and unfree,” she said.
For his part, LHRC advocate William Kahale said to organise free and fair elections, the new constitution-writing process should be revived. “This will address issues related to the independent electoral commission and the role of security organs in supervising elections,” he said.
Contacted, National Electoral Commission (NEC) director Ramadhan Kailima refuted claims that some agents were chased from polling stations, noting that restrictions were done in accordance with the law and regulations.