Democracy Hangs in the Balance as Tanzania Election Begins


Tanzanians are voting in a presidential election.

Many Tanzanians believe democracy itself hangs in the balance, and the tension is palpable.

The vote comes amid allegations the government is targeting opposition leaders and their supporters.

On Tuesday, Freeman Mbowe, of the top opposition party, CHADEMA, claimed armed guards raided his hotel room.

“Tonite @ 2.30 am & in the eve of an election day in Tz, heavily armed gangsters believed to be the notorious operators of Hai DC Ole Sabaya & protected by Hai Police OCD have raided our hotel, kidnapped & disappeared with two of our armed security guards. My life is in danger,” he tweeted.

This is not the first time the opposition has made such allegations.

In August, the office of Tanzania’s opposition party, CHADEMA, has been firebombed. Party leader Tundu Lissu announced the news via his Twitter account.

“Our Northern Zone party HQ in Arusha has been firebombed and destroyed on the eve of my arrival in Arusha. Today’s timetable remains unchanged,” Lissu writes. “No amount of terror and intimidation will stop this Tsunami for change in Tanzania. Arusha here we come ✌🏾 “

He also shared several photos of the aftermath of the bombing.

Lissu is already urging his supporters to take to the streets in protest when the election results are announced on Thursday.

“Voting reports indicate widespread irregularities in the form of preventing our polling agents from accessing polling stations,” he tweeted on Wednesday morning. “Stuffed ballot boxes seized in Kawe, Dar. If this continues, mass democratic action will be the only option to protect the integrity of the election.”

Another opposition party, The ACT Wazalendo party, has accused police of arresting its Zanzibar presidential candidate, Maalim Seif Sharif Hamad. Police official, Mohammed Hassan Haji, confirmed the arrest but did not provide any further details.

The party also claims police opened fire on civilians Monday evening. Pavu Juma Abdalla, the party’s deputy secretary for human rights, says seven people were killed in the shooting, and more than 100 people were arrested.

Originally posted 2020-10-28 11:30:32.

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