Tanzania Government Reinstates Disqualified Opposition Candidates

Dar es Salaam — The controversy surrounding this month's local government elections took a new turn yesterday when the government reinstated tens of thousands of disqualified aspirants.

The vast majority of those who were initially locked out of the November 24 polls were from the opposition Chadema and ACT-Wazalendo.

The Minister of State in the President's Office (Regional Administration and Local Government), Mr Selemani Jafo, said candidates who had been reinstated were those who had been cast aside for failing to observe basic regulations such as writing down their names and the positions they are seeking properly.

"Reinstated aspirants are those who were nominated and cleared by their respective parties and who handed in their forms before the set deadline."

The decision excludes people who were disqualified because they were non-citizens, had registered as voters more than once, were not sponsored by any political party or did not register in areas they were seeking leadership positions.

Mr Jafo's announcement came after four opposition parties pulled out of the elections. They are Chadema, ACT-Wazalendo, Chaumma and NCCR-Mageuzi, which declared its withdrawal a few hours before the minister addressed a news conference which was televised live from Dodoma.

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He said the elections would go ahead as planned despite the boycott.

A total of 539,993 aspirants returned their forms out of 550,036 who picked up the papers.

The ruling CCM had 412,872 candidates, which is 74 per cent of all aspirants, while Chadema intended to field 105,937, or 19 per cent.

Mr Jafo said CUF had 24,592 candidates, or four per cent, with other parties, including ACT-Wazalendo and NCCR-Mageuzi, accounting for the remaining three per cent.

Chadema and ACT-Wazalendo said last week that over 90 per cent of their candidates had been disqualified on "flimsy grounds", adding that they were puling out of the elections because they did not want to legitimise a "highly illegitimate" process.

NCCR-Mageuzi chairman James Mbatia said yesterday in Dodoma that at least 20,000 out of the party's 35,407 candidates had been disqualified.

Meanwhile, Mr Jafo said CCM candidates had been elected unopposed as chairpersons of 6,248 villages, representing 51 per cent of the 12,319 villages across the country, because they were the only candidates in those areas.

The party has also received walkovers in 1,169 out of 4,263 streets, or 27 per cent, and 37,505 out of 64,384 hamlets across the country.

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