Lawyers for Tundu Lissu Warn Against Tanzanian Government Plot to Block Candidacy

The following press release was distributed to media today:

WASHINGTON, DC 23 August 2020 – The President of Tanzania John Magufuli and Chief Justice Ibrahim Hamis Juma are being warned of any potential collusion with the National Electoral Commission (NEC) to interfere with the nomination of opposition candidate Tundu Lissu, according to a new open letter published by Amsterdam & Partners LLP.

Robert Amsterdam, the firm’s founding partner who represents Mr. Lissu, highlights the fact that Mr. Lissu is being summoned to the Magistrate Court on Wednesday 26 August, which is the exact same day he is required to be available to defend any challenges to his candidacy before the NEC. According to the open letter, there are credible reports that he will be taken into custody during the proceedings, potentially subject to new charges for incitement, denied bail and, at least temporarily, detained with the goal of blocking his ability to register as a candidate.

“How could he appear before the Commission if he is conveniently detained by the Government and awaiting trial on sedition and/or incitement charges?,” Amsterdam writes in the open letter. “These actions can only be seen as direct political interference in both judicial and electoral processes with the intent to deny Mr. Lissu his right to stand in the October elections.”

Mr. Amsterdam states that the sedition charges against Mr. Lissu should be dropped or postponed until after the election, and that he expects the situation to be remedied immediately and that the Government will comply with the Constitution, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.

Should the Government of Tanzania engage in interference with the legal democratic process, Mr. Amsterdam indicates that a broad range of responses will be explored.

“We will pursue every avenue available to shine light on the political interference by the current Government, to trigger international investigations by relevant United Nations Special Rapporteurs and the African Commission on Human Rights, and to advocate for international sanctions against those responsible for these abuses,” Amsterdam writes in the open letter. “Of course, we hope and expect, that such actions will not be necessary because the Government of Tanzania will quickly remedy these abuses and confirm Mr. Lissu’s nomination.”

The full text of the open letter is available for download on

Amsterdam & Partners LLP is an international law firm with offices in London and Washington DC representing a broad range of current and past clients, including former President of Zambia Rupiah Banda, Ugandan parliamentarian Bobi Wine, and the Republic of Turkey, among others. More information is available at