Tanzania’s Opposition Laments Repression As The Country Heads To Polls Next Week

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Tanzania's former MP with the Chadema main opposition party Tundu Lissu, who was shot 16 times in a 2017 attack and returned a week ago after three years in exile, speaks after being nominated as the party's presidential candidate for the October election during the party's general congress in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on August 4, 2020. (Photo by STR / AFP)

Within a week, Tanzanians will vote to decide who will be the country’s next president.

Incumbent John Magufuli is expected to win re-election, although main opposition candidate Tundu Lissu recently returned to Tanzania. He was deported to Belgium after 16 gunshot wounds he received when he was shot by unidentified assailants in 2017.

In the run-up to the October 28 elections, opposition parties complained of threats and repression, and human rights groups accused the government of restricting freedom of expression and freedom of the press. Previously, the government denied these allegations.

President John Mangufuli

Last week, Amnesty International said in a new report, that the Magufuli government had developed many laws to suppress all forms of dissent and effectively limit freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

Deprose Muchena, Amnesty’s East and South Africa director, said politicians have been arrested for holding or attending meetings, the media have been shut down and banned, online activism has been criminalized and NGOs have been pressured by endless regulations.

In August, Lissu’s Chadema party announced that its offices in the northern city of Arusha had been bombed and destroyed.

Meanwhile, Lisu questioned the independence of the electoral commission, after he was banned by the ethics committee from campaigning for a week for alleged violations during the election campaign. Dozens of opposition candidates have been removed from the ballot.

Earlier this month, Lissu told Al Jazeera that the opposition would not accept a stolen election.

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