US concerned about Tanzanian local elections


The United States is concerned about accounts of violence and intimidation in the run-up to August by-elections in Tanzania.

Tanzanian opposition leaders complained that tolerance for dissent diminished rapidly after President John Magufuli took office in 2015 on pledges to reform the East African nation’s economy and crack down on corruption.

The US Embassy in Dar es Salaam cited “credible” accounts of violence and irregularities ahead of by-elections.

In a statement on its website, the embassy said the National Election Commission refused to register opposition candidates and they were subject to police intimidation.

The embassy also cited unwarranted arrests of candidates and acts to suppress freedom of assembly and speech.
“Such actions undermine the rights Tanzania’s constitution guarantees its citizens and jeopardise peace, stability, and security in the country and throughout the region,” the embassy said.

Magufuli’s government introduced anti-corruption measures and tightened regulations on foreign companies, particularly in the mining sector.

The vote in question involved a parliamentary by-election in the north-western region Kigoma and 36 local elections, according to The Citizen, an English-language Tanzanian daily.

The paper reported the electoral commission assessed the polls to be free and fair. The commission asked the US Embassy to provide evidence for its allegations, it said, citing NEC Information Officer Christina Njovu.

Electoral commission officials could not be reached for comment.