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Violence mars release of poll results

Friday October 30 2020
Violence pic

Zanzibar’s anti-riot police officers patrol in the streets during an operation after the opposition called for protests in Stone Town, on October 29, 2020 as tensions rise while the results of the general election are being announced. Tanzania’s main opposition presidential candidate Tundu Lissu yesterday declared he would not recognise the election result as key seats fell to the ruling party in a vote he described as marred by irregularities. PHOTO | AFP

Dar es Salaam. Announcement of Wednesday’s General Election results was greeted with violent clashes and arrests in several parts of the country where leaders and supporters of the Opposition rejected the outcomes citing widespread irregularities.

Reports of clashes between security forces and youths who protested the results in many opposition strongholds were being received from across the country.

Several candidate for the opposition and poll agents were arrested as police engaged with protesters who rejected election results.

Zanzibar’s key opposition figure Seif Sharif Hamad and other top leaders of the opposition ACT-Wazalendo party were arrested at Michenzani shortly after they staged a peaceful demonstration rejecting election results that were being announced by the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC).

He said shortly before leading the demonstrations that Zanzibar election was nothing but a military operation to rob civilians of their right to freely choose their leaders.

He claimed over 12 people had already been shot dead by security forces in Zanzibar and Pemba while over 300 supporters of his party ACT-Wazalendo were being held in police custody. The Citizen could not independently verify the claims.

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There were also reports of heavy military presence in Unguja and Pemba where serious clashes were reported at Nungwi in Unguja.

On Tuesday, Inspector General of Police Simon Sirro denied reports that law enforces had shot dead people in Zanzibar, saying the reports were unfounded.

He confirmed, however, that police were holding 42 in the Isles over allegations of attacking police officers distributing ballot boxes.

Reports from Lindi had it that properties including houses and vehicles in Liwale, Nachingwea and Mtama constituencies were torched or badly damaged on Thursday as citizens protested preliminary election results at polling stations.

A house that belonged to CCM’s Liwale parliamentary candidate Zuberi Kuchauka, a dispensary and the Civic United Front (CUF) office were set ablaze during the clashes.

Eye witnesses also told The Citizen that an ambulance was also torched.

“Police heightened security the whole of yesterday night to prevent further damages. Shots and explosions could be heard throughout the night,” said a source.

He said several people have been arrested and others were injured as security forces mounted operation to quell the violence.

In Nachingwea Town, a police vehicle was torched by angry citizens in Mpiluka Village as villagers protested initial poll results at polling stations and announcing CCM wards candidates as winners in elections they thought the Opposition deserved victory.

“In this area many youths support the opposition so they rioted to express their displeasure with poll results,” said the source over phone.

Reports from Mtama Constituency said angry people set on fire the office of the Ward Executive Officer on Wednesday. “Tallying of votes that was taking place in the area had to be shifted to Nyangao over security concerns,” said a witness.

CCM parliamentary candidate Zuberi Kuchauka said the ordeal started at Likongowele Polling Station where opposition candidates demanded copies of poll results which, he said, was no longer mandatory after amendment of the Elections Act.

“Fights ensured outside the station the disagreeing groups move close to the house of our party’s councillorship candidate Mussa Mkoyage that was set ablaze a few minutes later.

“The crowd grew bigger as chaos spread to other places in the district. By 9:30pm they came to my house where they burned my two houses and three vehicles,” claimed Mr Kuchauka.

Reports from Mbeya had it that several parts of the region witnessed riots shortly after the former Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Tulia Ackson, was declared winner of the Mbeya Urban parliamentary seat.

Police applied teargas canisters and rubber bullets to disperse the groups. Several people have been arrested over the violence.

Riots were also reported at Berege Ward in Mpwawa District, Dodoma Region where residents torched six motorcycles and ten ballot boxes before damaging ward offices.

A vehicle belonging to the local government authority was also destroyed.

Returning officer for Mpwapwa District Sweya Mamba confirmed the incident, saying the destruction did not affect election results.

In Shinyanga Region, police arrested parliamentary candidate for the main opposition Chadema Salome Makamba over allegations of attacking and injuring assistant returning officer at Ugweto B Polling Station in Ibadakuli Ward, Farida John.

Shinyanga Regional Police boss Sebora Magiligimba said Ms Makamba committed the offence Wednesday evening and disappeared before she was arrested.

Other reports had it that Ms Makamba was beaten and seriously injured by the police during her arrest.

In Karatu District, Manyara Region, police fired teargas to disperse hundreds of CCM and Chadema supporters with both sides claiming victory in the election.

The residents had gathered at the town centre to pressure early announcement of the results.

Incidents of violence were also reported in Kigoma Region where police charge scores of protesters believed to be members of the opposition ACT-Wazalendo party after a CCM candidate for Kigoma Urban constituency was announced winner. The protesters carried placards and the party’s flag chanting “Zitto, Zitto, Zitto” who vied for the position through the party.

Returning officer announced that some contestants had refused to sign the election result forms.

There were also unconfirmed reports of unrest in parts of Songwe Region, particularly in Tunduma Town, where opposition supporters clashed with security forces.

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