Tensions Rise Ahead of Tanzania Elections
With less than three weeks left until elections in Tanzania, tensions are rising in what is being called the closest electoral race in the nation’s history.
So far the build-up has been largely peaceful, with only a “few isolated cases” of violence breaking out since campaigning began on August 22 – however, the growing presence of militias hints at a tense conclusion for the campaign period.
There are a total of seven candidates in the running, but all eyes are on the big three, whose militias have been making their presence felt over the last few months. These militias are designed to intimidate voters and concerns have been voiced that continued pressure could lead to violence.
“If intimidation practises continue during the campaign period, with no judicial remedies to account for misconduct, Tanzanians may find themselves looking for other, less peaceful ways to express their grievances and settle disputes,” The Open Society has said.
The need for a fair election
Observers are hoping to see fair elections in Tanzania later this month, as the country continues its newly democratic journey. The African nation has a reputation as one of the model democracies on the continent and it would be a major step backwards for Tanzania to have violence break out because of the elections – especially with the troubles in neighbouring Burundi.
“A tight election or the perception of a rigged outcome could increase the chance of post-election violence in what has been one of Africa’s leading democracies and most peaceful countries,” a former US diplomat to Africa wrote for African Arguments.
John Magufuli, candidate for the long-ruling CCM party is believed to be favourite, ahead of the election on October 25th. However, the party’s decline in popularity has seen opposition parties rally around ex-prime minister, Edward Lowassa, who recently defected from the CCM.
“Jakaya Kikwete – Partnerships for Development – World Economic Forum on Africa 2011 – 1” by Copyright World Economic Forum (www.weforum.org)/Photo by Matthew Jordaan / Mediapix – Jakaya Kikwete – Partnerships for Development – World Economic Forum on Africa 2011. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons.