Nairobi, Kampala, Gaborone, London: 28 October 2020: The Panel of Eminent Persons drawn from East and Southern Africa continues to monitor developments in the Tanzania 2020 General Election to be held
today, 28 October 2020.
The Panel stands in solidarity with the people of Tanzania as they exercise their democratic right to elect their government and participate in the governance of their country. We urge all parties to exercise restraint and civility as the polls begin today through the announcement of election results and beyond.
The Panel is, however, deeply concerned over reports of escalating tension in Zanzibar on the eve of the polls. Reports of killings, brutality and harassment by state security forces in both Unguja and Pemba underlie a worrying trend. There are legitimate concerns that the heavy police and army deployment across Zanzibar is intimidating residents and creating fear and despondency that could deter voters from turning out. We deplore the excessive force used by Police in responding to protesters by tear-gassing and other callous acts in Zanzibar.
As a result, there have been reported deaths of civilians in the hands of security forces. These actions have created an environment of fear that is not conducive to holding credible, free and fair elections. The Panel
strongly condemns these actions and calls on the Police to observe and respect international human rights standards, particularly the UN Basic Principles on the use of force and firearms by law enforcement officials and the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials.
We wish to remind the authorities that politically-motivated violence is a crime against humanity as stipulated in Article 7 of the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court to which Tanzania
is a party.
The Panel is similarly alarmed by the clampdown on communication channels, including suspension of bulk SMS services, reported blocking of social media sites, and slowing down of Internet communication ahead of the elections. We call upon the authorities to uphold the tenets of freedom of information and expression enshrined in the Tanzania Constitution and the African Commission’s Guidelines on Access to Information and Elections.
The Panel calls upon the National Electoral Commission (NEC) and Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) to conduct the elections in a transparent, credible, free and fair manner. Elections are an expression of the
sovereign will of the people. The stability and prosperity of Tanzania and its democratic credentials will depend on the integrity of these elections.
Professor Frederick Ssempebwa – Chairperson
Ms. Alice Mogwe – Co-Chair
Dr. Willy Mutunga – Co-Chair