September 15, 2004

Tanzania parties to sue over civic polls

Tanzania's major opposition political parties are going to court to seek an injunction restraining the government from proceeding with this year's civic elections, slated for November 2004. The parties accuse the government of conniving with the ruling party, Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM), to give it victory on a silver platter even before a single vote is cast, the bone of contention being the way the voters' register has been compiled. The three parties planning the legal action are the Civic United Front (CUF), Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema) and the Tanzania Labour Party (TLP). CUF chairman Prof Ibrahim Lipumba, Chadema vice chairman Dr Amani Walid Kabourou, and TLP acting secretary general Hamad said that the registration exercise was "so ridiculous" that it was "an insult to the collective intelligence of wananchi." As Ibrahim Lipumba has put it, "We are consulting our lawyers on how to seek an injunction to stop the government from going ahead with the election. Further, we are going to ask the courts to nullify the just ended registration exercise."
The local government voter registration, which is accused of having left out thousands of people, ended on September 6. The exercise was supposed to have been conducted from house to house, but hundreds of people report of having not been visited by registration officers. Civic elections are administered by the President's Office, under the Minister for Regional Administration and Local Governments. (The East African, Nairobi)

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