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UK and US embassies call for calm, probe of poll irregularities

Friday October 30 2020
Peace pic

Photo by Reuters

Dar es Salaam. The united States and UK embassies in Dar es Salaam and a regional election observer team for the elections in Tanzania have called for calm and a refrain from acts of violence as they asked local authorities to work on the reports of irregularities reported from the elections.

On the eve of the elections, National Electoral Commission Chairman Judge Semistocles Kaijage refuted reports on fake ballots and said they were yet to be verified to find out the truth. The polls agency is yet to respond to latest opposition’s protest of the vote outcome which it has rejected.

Yesterday, UK’s High Commissioner David Concar said he was worried yesterday about tensions in Zanzibar. “As in any election, the credibility of the process, on Zanzibar and the mainland, will depend on electoral authorities following up on and investigating reports of irregularities,” said Mr Concar on his twitter page yesterday. The envoy who previously served in Somalia said he was glad also to have toured several polling stations in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday.

In its statement also shared on twitter, the US embassy said while Tanzanians were accorded the right to participate in the peaceful process, it had noted credible reports of election related fraud and intimidation reported by political parties, civil society groups and observers.

“These allegations include detentions of candidates and protesters, restrictions on representatives of political parties’ ability to access polling stations, repeat voting, pre-filling of ballots and weidespsread blocking of soial media and other communication platforms,” said the embassy.

According to the embassy, the said irregularities and overwhelming margins of victory raise “serious doubts about the credibility of the results announced as well as concerns about the Government of Tanzania commitment to democratic values.”

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It urged authorities to work with all stakeholders to address the concerns in order to restore trust and heal division and reinforce respect for the rule of law and good governance. “We call on all parties to refrain from violence and inciteful rhetoric over the coming days,”read the statement which also said authorities should repsect the right of Tanzanians to peacefully express themselves.

In a report released yesterday, Tanzania Election Watch (TEW), also called for calm and refrain from acts of violence by all parties. TEW chairman Fred Ssempebwa said the polls agency should demonstrate and protect the integrity of the whole exercise. He spoke during a webinar to discuss the preliminary election observation report by his team.

TEW is a regional initiative to shed light on the electoral context in the country and as such craft a regional response to the same. He called on the Tanzanian government to maintain peace and avoid acts that would bring terror-like parading of armed personnel and weapons in the streets.

He further called on the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) to condemn any acts of human rights violation because, according to his team, Tanzania was fast losing its star power of being a nation of peace.

“Tanzania had ample time to prepare for the elections and complete all preparations to ensure there would be no hiccups,” he said.

Prof Ssempebwa noted that it was imperative the election management system is handled by impartial and fair institutions, which would give equal opportunities to all.

He said that his team had observed with concern trends that were not rosy and the remaining tallying process if mismanaged and not transparent could breed violence.

Commenting in the meeting, Uganda’s High Court Judge Lady Justice Lydia Mugambe said reports showed that Opposition polling agents had been denied their oversight function, with others being subjected to mistreatment, along with claims of vote stuffing, which could all amount to a flawed election.

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