November 02, 2020 2:06 PM

Independent Panel made up of Africa leaders should investigate election irregularities and oversee fresh elections

I welcome the statement from UK Minister for Africa, James Duddridge yesterday regarding last weeks’ deeply flawed election. Minister Duddridge indicated that ‘the UK is concerned by widespread allegations of interference in the country’s elections, including pre-filled ballot boxes and party agents being denied entry to polling stations. We are also deeply troubled by the reports of violence and heavy-handed policing in the elections, including the arrest of opposition political leaders.’ He further called for ‘a transparent investigation by the electoral authorities into reported irregularities’. This follows similar concerns expressed by the governments of the United States of America, Canada and Norway.

We agree that it is important that all irregularities be investigated including the terrible violence that has been visited on Tanzanians and Zanzibaris over the past week. However, you cannot ask the National Electoral Commission (NEC), Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) or the Tanzanian Police to investigate these irregularities and violence. These bodies have not been impartial or fair, and have sided with the ruling party. You cannot ask perpetrators to investigate themselves.

What we need is an independent, credible investigation that will be seen as legitimate by all parties and citizens of the United Republic. Accordingly, I will be proposing that all parties work with the regional and international community to set up an independent panel of eminent African leaders that will investigate the irregularities of last week, including the violence. I will also propose that this body commission and oversee the holding of fresh elections using independent electoral commissions and staff from other African countries.

Fresh elections need to be held. Individuals also need to be held accountable for the violence, loss of life and damage they have caused. We will not relent in our mission to bring democracy and freedom back to Tanzania and Zanzibar.

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