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Opposition: Policemen Frustrating Campaigns

TOMRIC Agency, 30 August 2000

Dar Es Salaam - The National Chairman of the Tanzania Labor Party (TLP) and a presidential candidate, Mr. Augustino Mrema, has claimed that the policemen are disrupting his campaigns and rallies.

He told the press yesterday that he had consulted the National Electoral Commission (NEC) for them to intervene. The campaigns started two weeks ago ahead of general elections scheduled for October 29, this year. Mr. Mrema said that police in some constituencies he had visited have banned some TLP members from conducting party programs including selling cards for new members. He said in Dodoma Region the situation was terrible as police use all means to frustrate members of his party and that some of them were being put in detention for several hours.

I am already written a letter to the NEC complaining about harassment by the policemen who retards our programs, he said. Mr. Mrema, who is vying for the top post for the second time, claimed that such frustration by policemen was all part of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) tactics to affect his party; the acts, which he said, would make the elections unfair and not free. I am asking the NEC to intervene because during this period of campaigning the conduct of political parties falls under the Commission, he said.

Asked to give names of those harassed, Mr. Mrema said Elias Joseph who is their member, was thrown into custody in Dodoma for several hours.

After he was found raising the TLP flag by using his car. Despite harassment, Mr. Mrema said this period the opposition parties would do better that 1995's general elections. He could not explain how, but about 20 CCM parliamentary candidates face unopposed after the opposition failed to contest in the respective constituencies or delayed to submit their nomination forms for considerations.

According to the NEC, the names of 20 parliamentary candidates who have not been opposed in their constituencies will be published in the Official Government Gazzete, soon, declaring them members of parliament in accordance with the law. This unveiled here by the Director of Elections, Rajabu Kiravu who also said that NEC had received 29 appeals from parliamentary aspirants and 67 from contestants for ward leaders. He said fourteen appeals from parliamentary contestants and 24 appeals from contestants vying for councilor seats have been disposed of. On October 29, the Tanzania Mainland will elect the Union President, Members of Parliament and Councilors while Zanzibaris will, in addition to the above, will choose their president and members of House of Representatives.