A major opposition party in Tanzania is accusing police of shooting dead at least seven citizens amid unrest over alleged fraud on the eve of the country’s presidential election.
The ACT Wazalendo party on Tuesday also said police in the semi-autonomous island region arrested its Zanzibar presidential candidate, Maalim Seif Sharif Hamad.
Police in Pemba city, however, did not comment on the ACT Wazalendo allegation that police opened fire on citizens Monday evening on the eve of advance voting in the region. He was then arrested Tuesday morning at a polling station as he went to vote, the party said.
Tanzanian President John Magufuli seeks a second five-year term in Wednesday’s vote, and opposition parties and human rights groups have expressed concern that the vote is already compromised in favor of the ruling party.
Candidates ahead of Wednesday’s vote, including top opposition candidate Tundu Lissu, have alleged harassment by authorities, and some major independent election observers will be absent unlike in previous votes.
So far, the group said, the commission’s conduct “does not pass the basic tests of an independent and impartial election management body,” adding that “many candidates remain locked out of the process.”
Amnesty International’s Seif Magango added in an interview: “We are concerned that the last five years of human rights deterioration in the country could continue into the next five.”
Zanzibar has been the scene of deadly abuses by security forces in the past. In 2001, security forces killed at least 35 people and wounded more than 600 while suppressing opposition protests over alleged election fraud, Human Rights Watch reported. – AFP