Dar es Salaam. The main opposition party Chadema yesterday announced that it would abide by the National Electoral Commission (NEC) Ethics Committee’s decision to suspend campaigning by its presidential candidate, Mr Tundu Lissu.
However, the party’s chairman, Mr Freeman Mbowe, said the party’s Central Committee (CC) - which met on Saturday from morning to midnight -agreed that they would file a case with the High Court to oppose NEC’s decision.
Mr Lissu was suspended from election campaign activities for seven days after he was accused of making seditious statements at one of his campaign rallies.
In a statement on Friday, the NEC said Mr Lissu will remain suspended with effect from October 3, for breaching the elections code of ethics.
Mr Mbowe said the party was aware that the case to be filed might not be responded timely, but it was good for such a kind of misdeeds by NEC to be on record.
“Blatant violation of democratic rights on the pretext of enforcing existing laws is unacceptable,” Mbowe.
Noting earlier that he was willing to continue with the campaign regardless of NEC’s decision, Mr Lissu said a decision to keep the ball rolling or not would be made by his party’s CC.
But, speaking yesterday, Mr Mbowe said the CC advised the party’s flag bearer not to continue with campaigning and, instead, pursue other community and political responsibilities.
“We’re aware of NEC’s intention.We understand various reasons sought by NEC to frustrate our presidential candidate, and have decided not to let such a thing happen,” he said.
“Every cloud has a silver lining, so if NEC thought it was pulling us down by barring our messages from reaching Tanzanians through Mr Lissu, it would be wrong,” said Mr Mbowe.
“The party will arrange for him a programme for other party duties. As a leader, Mr Lissu - who is the party’s national vice chairman - cannot stay without something positive to do.”
In another development, Mr Mbowe said the party’s CC had officially approved the decision to support ACT-Wazalendo’s presidential candidate in Zanzibar, Seif Sharif Hamad, in a move designed to oust the ruling CCM.
This came after thorough discussions with Zanzibar’s presidential candidate on Chadema’s ticket, Said Issa Mohamed.
“Our presidential candidate is satisfied with the party’s proposal to support ACT-Wazalendo’s candidate for the Zanzibar presidency,” Mr Mbowe stressed.
As it is, Mr Mohamed would immediately follow the due procedures for withdrawing from the presidential race.
ACT-Wazalendo for its part, had in the past few weeks announced its support for the Chadema presidential aspirant for the Union presidency.
Mr Mbowe said Chadema was also considering to forge unity in some constituencies and wards for parliamentary and councillors’ seats.
“The CC has directed the technical team to establish areas where we can unite more practically,” he noted.