Tanzania: Opposition Party Weighs Fielding Candidate for Kinondoni

Dar es Salaam — The main Opposition party, Chadema, has said it is still weighing whether or not to take part in the February 17 parliamentary by-election for Kinondoni.

This comes just days after the party, alongside several opposition parties, boycotted by-elections in three constituencies on January 13.

The Kinondoni Constituency fell vacant late last year after the then legislator, Mr Maulid Mtulia, decided he was no longer a member of CUF before defecting to the ruling CCM.

Chadema and its coalition partners under the Ukawa banner boycotted last week's by-elections in Songea Urban, Singida North and Longido constituencies over allegations that civic polls held across 43 wards in November, 2017 were chaotic and therefore not free and fair.

They claimed that during the civic polls, the National Electoral Commission offered no room for a fair competition between the opposition and CCM.

But in an interesting turn of events, the Chadema district chairman for Kinondoni, Mr Waziri Muhunzi, said last week's parliamentary by-elections - in which CCM candidates won - had shown democratic space was improving.

"We have come to this decision after realising that NEC has addressed a number of complaints we raised with regard to the handling of last week's by-elections," he said, insisting that the party was fielding a candidate for the Kinondoni seat as a way of testing whether democracy was improving or not.

Sources from Chadema headquarters told The Citizen that they were still weighing their options before reaching the decision.

"We'll let the public know by tomorrow (today) of our decision," said the source.

Speaking on whether they will join forces with CUF which is an Ukawa coalition partner, Mr Muhunzi said Chadema was not ready to support a candidate from the CUF faction under Prof Ibrahim Lipumba.

"We will not join forces with CUF this time in the by-election since the one that we had previously supported (Mr Maulid Mtulia) was a Lipumba supporter and that was why he ended up decamping to CCM. We would only support CUF if it fielded a support of the opposition party's Seif Sharif Hamad faction," he said.

According to Mr Muhunzi, at least 13 party cadres have shown interest in contesting for the party's ticket for the seat.

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