Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

Tanzania: Form Independent Electoral Body Before 2015 - Chadema

THE opposition CHADEMA wants the government to amend the Election Act of 1985 in a bid, among other things, to form an independent electoral commission ahead of 2015 general elections.

CHADEMA National Chairman, Mr Freeman Mbowe, told a news conference in Dar es Salaam that the party was afraid that the on-going process of reviewing the constitution may not give parties ample time to prepare for the elections.

"The review process is likely to end in 2014 and no one knows what the content of the new constitution will entail, it's therefore wise to amend the election act to guide the next civic and general elections in 2014 and 2015 respectively," Mr Mbowe said.

Mr Mbowe is also the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly. He added: "It is safe to assume that the new constitution will have a lot of provisions which are not known yet and given limited time, parties will not be prepared to go through all of them.

It is because of this that we need to amend the act to guide us in the elections." The stand by the opposition party follows an ordinary meeting of its National Central Committee (NCC) held in Dar es Salaam on December 15 and 16, this year.

Flanked by Secretary General Dr Wilbrod Slaa, the CHADEMA chairman was skeptical if the next general elections will be free and fair in the absence of an independent electoral commission.

"Our stand is that the Election Act of 1985 is outdated and needs to be amended. The revision should be done parallel to the process of reviewing the constitution," he explained. He also accused the existing National Electoral Commission (NEC) of being biased by favouring the ruling party at the expense of other political parties.

Regular updating of the permanent voters' registry to include people who have turned 18 years of age and thus become eligible to vote are also among issues that the party want to be considered in the amendment of the election legislation.

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