African court orders Tanzania to allow challenges to presidential results

Thursday July 16 2020

 

By Zephania Ubwani

Dar es Salaam. The African rights court on Wednesday ordered Tanzania to amend a section of its constitution which bars any court from probing the election of a president after a winner is officially announced.

 Tanzanian advocate, Jebra Kambole, filed a case at the Arusha-based court in 2018 arguing the provision was a violation of his rights.

Tanzania's constitution states that once a presidential candidate has been declared the winner by the electoral commission "no court of law shall have any jurisdiction to inquire into the election of that candidate."

Recently courts in Kenya and Malawi have overturned the results of presidential elections won by an incumbent due to irregularities, forcing a re-run, in what has been seen as a victory for democracy on the continent.

The African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights ordered Tanzania to take "necessary constitutional and legislative measures, within a reasonable time" to amend the relevant article, read a statement from the court.

It also ordered Tanzania to submit a report within 12 months on the measures it has taken to implement the judgment and ruled the country must publish its judgement on the websites of the judiciary and constitutional affairs ministry within three months.

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In 2019 Tanzania withdrew from a protocol allowing individuals and NGOs to file cases against the government at the court, which has judges from across Africa working on rights cases.

Amnesty International last year said Tanzania had the highest number of cases filed by individuals and NGOs at the court.

Opposition parties in the country have questioned the independence of the electoral commission, and last year boycotted local elections