As the Tanzanians go the polls today, UN chief, African Union call for safe, credible & inclusive elections
The UN Secretary-General s called on everyone involve in Tanzania’s political process to ensure that Wednesday’s general elections are held in a safe, inclusive and peaceful manner, amid reports of intimidation and harassment of political opponents, journalists and activists.
In a statement from his spokesperson, Secretary-General António Guterres urged political leaders and their supporters to participate in the polls peacefully and refrain from violence.
He also called on the authorities to provide a safe and secure environment, which will allow Tanzanians to exercise their civil and political rights, the statement said.
African Union Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat also pleaded for peace and called for credible and inclusive elections.
“The chairperson calls for all stakeholders, political parties and their supporters to participate in the voting process peacefully and refrain from any acts of violence. He further urges the authorities to ensure a conducive environment to enable citizens to cast their votes in a safe and peaceful manner,” Mr Faki’s spokesperson said in a statement.
Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan will lead a team of observers from the AU, while ex-Burundi President Sylvestre Ntibantunganya will lead 59 monitors from the East African Community.
‘Shrinking of democratic space’
Meanwhile, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said that it has been following “with concern” the shrinking of democratic space in the country.
At a regular media briefing, in Geneva, OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani spoke of “worrying reports” of intimidation, harassment, arbitrary arrests and physical attacks against political opponents, journalists, women human rights defenders, and other activists.
“This repression of dissenting voices intensified in the lead up to the elections, when the rights to freedom of expression and political participation should be upheld, not repressed,” she added.
The OHCHR spokesperson raised particular alarm over reports that three people were reportedly killed on Monday night and others injured on Pemba Island in the Zanzibar archipelago where police fired live ammunition in clashes with opposition supporters.
“We urge the authorities to ensure prompt, transparent, independent investigations into the incident and urge all actors to refrain from any acts of violence,” she said.