Tanzania: Election Agents - the Law Must Be Followed to the Letter, Says Lissu

Dar es Salaam — Chadema Presidential candidate Tundu Lissu explained yesterday why it was a important for all election agents to take an oath before supervisors and their assistants, saying doing the opposite would be a deliberate contravention of the law.

Mr Lissu made the remark during campaign rallies held in Babati Rural and Babati Urban constituencies in Manyara region.

Speaking during both events, Mr Lissu, who doubles as party's vice chairman for the Mainland, said the country's election laws stipulate that it is must for agents representing political parties to be sworn in, given access to polling stations and be provided with results declaration forms.

He said experience from previous by-elections and last year's local polls shows that agents representing political parties were unreasonably denied their rights to take an oath, something led to chaos in some areas.

"The law requires agents to be sworn in in the election process. Election supervisors and their assistants will be adversity if our agents will this time be denied to take an oath," he said.

The former Singda East lawmaker and ex-Tanganyika Law Society (TLS) president said in the past the agents used to be provided with introduction letters that were used on the election day.

But, he said the electoral body has now enacted a regulation requiring the agents to collect the introduction letters at their respective polling stations.

"This will lead to unnecessary inconveniences and wastage of time to our agents as arbitrary dislocation of the documents could be done," he said.

According to him, the electoral body has formulated a regulation saying the agents will be provided with copies of results declaration forms whenever the documents are available contrary to election regulations.

The outspoken politician, who survived an assassination attempt in Dodoma on September 7 in 2017, said there would be arbitrary undersupply of the documents in order to deny agents fielded by opposition political parties therefore leaving them without evidence on what transpired in the polling station.

"Once our agents are denied the documents, they will take those remaining with the polling station supervisors or their assistants who will have to find alternatives of communicating with district executive directors," he said.

Mr Lissu, who embarked on use of helicopter yesterday, could not address a rally in Karatu after arriving at the campaign late, and therefore promised cadres, members and supporters that he will address a rally from 9am today before proceeding with today's schedule.

Meanwhile, Mr Lissu's running mate Salum Mwalimu yesterday asked the Officer Commanding District (OCD) for Karagwe to take legal action against the assistant returning officer for the area for failure to reinstate two councillorship aspirants for the opposition Chadema in line with a ruling from the National Electoral Commission (NEC).

The opposition party's aspirants for Kayanga and Chanika wards were to be dropped from the race but following their appeals, NEC reinstated them.

However, the returning officer, who doubles as the District Executive Director for Karagwe, has remained hesitant to reinstate the two as ruled by the NEC and that the duo was still being prevented to conduct election campaigns.

According to Mr Mwalimu, the returning officer was not only breaking the law but he was also putting peace in the area at stake.

"The OCD must take legal action against the retuning officer and if our candidates are in possession of forged NEC letters, then let the OCD take legal action against them as well. Preventing them from campaigning while they have been genuinely endorsed by the NEC is not only a contravention of the law but also a deliberate attempt to put peace at stake," he said.

Additional reporting by Ephrahim Bahemu

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