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Chairman Risch: Tanzania Officials Must Correct Past Errors and Hold Credible Vote

BOISE, Idaho – U.S. Senator Jim Risch, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today issued the following statement regarding the recent suspension of the leading Tanzanian opposition candidate's campaign by electoral officials:

“Suspending the leading opposition candidate's presidential campaign on bogus charges raises serious questions about the independence of Tanzania's electoral commission. The political violence and repression of opposition candidates, restrictions on independent media, lack of autonomy and transparency by electoral officials, and government authorities' interference reflect Tanzania's history of flawed elections and the country's democratic erosion over the past five years.

“Despite profoundly troubling developments throughout the electoral campaigns, Tanzania's October 28 general elections provide an opportunity for President Magufuli and electoral officials to correct past errors and return Tanzania to a positive democratic trajectory by holding free, fair, and credible elections. Otherwise, Tanzania's continued democratic decline stands to undermine its future and will negatively influence democratic progress in the rest of the region.”

Background: On Friday, Tanzania's National Electoral Commission (NEC) suspended leading opposition presidential candidate Tundu Lissu from campaigning for seven days for violating the electoral code of ethics. The NEC accused Mr. Lissu of making seditious comments during one of his rallies in complaints filed by two political parties, including the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi party. NEC membership is selected solely by the president of Tanzania.