9 November 2012

Tanzania: Appeals Court to Rule on Former Lawmaker

THE Court of Appeal on Thursday gave the former Arusha Urban Member of Parliament (MP) Godbless Lema (CHADEMA) 14 days to rectify records of appeal seeking to oppose the decision of the High Court, which nullified his election results.

A panel comprising Chief Justice Chande Othman, Justice Natalia Kimaro and Justice Salum Massati reached the decision after dismissing two grounds of objection advanced by three members of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), who were opposed to the hearing of the appeal.The justices ruled that the grounds by Mussa Mkanga, Happy Kivuyo and Agnes Mollel lacked legal merits.

However, the panel upheld one ground of objection by the trio, who had pointed out that the appeal by Lema had some defects on the records, but such a shortcoming could not invalidate the whole proceedings. In the appeal, Lema is being represented by advocates Tundu Lissu and Method Kimomogoro, while Advocate Alute Mughwai appears for the three CCM members.

The decision which is the subject matter in the appeal was given on April 5, 2012 by High Court Judge Gabriel Rwakibalira, declaring Lema's election in the 2010 General Elections null and void. Lema had polled 56,561 votes, leaving Dr Batilda Burian, his closest challenger and a CCM candidate, finishing a distant second with 37,460 votes. Dr Burian, a former Cabinet minister, is now Tanzania's High Commissioner to Kenya.

His victory was nullified after the court said it had been proven beyond any reasonable doubt that the then Chadema candidate uttered defamatory remarks and used abusive language against his CCM rival, Dr Burian.But later CHADEMA appealed against the ruling claiming it was a "travesty of justice," citing that the alleged defamatory and abusive language said to have been used by Lema against the CCM candidate, in the preceding campaigns had not been proven.

The opposition party claimed that such claims were not substantiated because the victim, Dr Buriani, who contested with Lema, did not appear before the court to corroborate them.

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