Ahead of the elections due in October, Tanzania’s parliament has been dissolved according to constitution. President John Magufuli has also pledged a free and fair in the country.
Magufuli, who took office in 2015 urged all political parties to “avoid insults and violence” while campaigning.
The constitution requires that the 393-seat legislature be dissolved ahead of the elections. The vote is scheduled for October, but the precise date has not yet been set.
In his address to legislators, Magufuli said: “I want to assure everyone that the elections will be free and fair, for all political parties”. President Magufuli, is expected to seek a second five-year term in the coming election
The dissolution comes just days after Tanzanian opposition leader Freeman Mbowe was attacked. Mbowe who announced his intention to run against Magufuli, was allegedly beaten and hospitalised. The Chadema party to which Mbowe belongs said the attack was a “politically-motivated” attack.
The European Union mission in the country denounced the alleged assault as an “attack against democracy”. The US and British embassies also expressed concern. Tanzanian police have cast doubt on the allegations.
Chadema says attacks against the party and its supporters have risen sharply under Magufuli. It is also important to note that Magufuli’s administration has been accused by rights groups of eroding democratic freedoms. The government has denied seeking to stifle dissent.
Opposition Parties seek independent Monitor for Elections
Chadema and other opposition parties including Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT Wazalendo) have called for an independent monitor to oversee the elections. They warn that the elections will not be free otherwise.
“The current setup of the electoral commission does not guarantee free polls, as it favours the ruling party. This is because the chairman and some other officials are appointed by the president, who is the ruling party leader,” said ACT Wazalendo chairman Seif Sharif Hamad.
In November, the governing Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party won more than 99 percent of seats in local elections boycotted by the opposition over allegations of government interference. The government denied foul play.