US Ambassador to Tanzania raises security concerns, calls for fair elections

In this Saturday, July 11, 2020 file photo, President John Magufuli speaks at the national congress of his ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party in Dodoma, Tanzania. Tanzanians are due to go to the polls on Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020 with the future of one of Africa's most populous countries at stake and, at least before the COVID-19 pandemic, one of its fastest-growing economies. (AP Photo, File)

The US Ambassador to Tanzania Donald J. Wright has urged the Tanzanian government to refrain from using its police officers to cause chaos hours into the start of elections.

This comes hours after the main opposition party leader in Zanzibar Maalim Sharif was arrested as he tried to cast his vote on Tuesday morning.

Sharif is the presidential flag bearer for ACT Wazalendo.

The party also claimed that the police officers killed four people in Zanzibar in an incident that left several people with injuries.

The ambassador confirmed the reports from Zanzibar and violence being witnessed in other parts of the country.

“I’m alarmed by reports from Zanzibar and elsewhere of violence, deaths, and detentions. It’s not too late to prevent more bloodshed,” Wright said.

He added that “Security forces must show restraint, and the NEC and ZEC must carry out their duties with integrity. Let’s all pray for peaceful, fair elections.”

Early voting is designated for officials from the Zanzibar Electoral Commission, returning officers, and security personnel.

Sharif has been opposed to the amendment that introduced early voting, claiming it would give room to rigging and malpractices.

Tanzanians will vote on Wednesday, in a contested election where the incumbent president John Pombe Magufuli is seeking a second term.

Magufuli is facing stiff competition from CHADEMA flagbearer Tundu Antiphas Lissu.

Lissu returned to Tanzania in July after a long treatment abroad after an assassination attempt in September 2017.