By Kizito Makoye
DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (AA) - Tanzanian opposition politician and former presidential candidate Tundu Lissu has called for sanctions, asset freezes and travel bans against government officials he says are behind flagrant human rights violations following disputed Oct. 28 elections.
In an interview from Belgium, where he lives in exile, Lissu said such measures would end the impunity that has characterized the regime of President John Magufuli, who was announced the winner by the National Electoral Commission (NEC) after garnering 12.5 million votes or 85% against his main challenger, Lissu, of the Party for Democracy and Progress (Chadema), who got 1.9 million votes or 13%.
“Those who subvert democracy, abuse the right of their people and commit crimes against humanity should never have any hiding place anywhere in the community of nations,” Lissu warned.
His remarks come barely days after the European Parliament discussed the deteriorating democratic and human rights situation in Tanzania in the aftermath of the election, which saw several people killed and others injured.
Lissu has urged the international community to hold the regime of President Magufuli, its leaders, top officials and financial enablers responsible for flagrant human rights abuses and crimes against humanity.
“Many people were killed and many more wounded as the paramilitary security forces ran amok, shooting, tear-gassing and beating anyone in their path,” he said.
Citing a passage from the latest memoirs of former US President Barack Obama, Lissu said his party cannot wait for divine intervention to see them through a just cause.
“We must worry that a belief in destiny encourages resignation in the down-and-out and complacency among the powerful,” he said.
Lissu warned his supporters to brace for difficult and bitter days ahead but urged his party’s rank and file to remain united.
“After stealing the election so blatantly, and given his record of the first five years, Magufuli can offer nothing to us but…blood, toil and tears. He can only maintain his grip on power through force, violence and repression,” he said.
Lissu observed that what happened in the Oct. 28 election made a mockery of the people’s legitimate expectations and dashed their democratic aspirations.
“Millions of Tanzanians went to the polls that day, expecting to not only vote but to have their votes counted and count in the shaping of the destiny of their country,” he said.
The government denied the allegations.
According to Lissu, the African Union Observers Mission had informed them after witnessing ballot boxes brimming with stuffed ballot papers in favor of the candidates of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi, or “Party of the Revolution.”
As the country has virtually plunged into a single-party state, the outspoken opposition leader has refused to recognize the results of the election, which he described as “fraudulent.”
“We have rejected any participation in parliament or in local government authorities, as to do so would be tantamount to accepting the results of this travesty of democracy,” he added.