Throngs of supporters are rejoicing in Tanzania Wednesday as the CHADEMA candidate for president Tundu Lissu was finally able to successful file his registration papers with the National Electoral Commission (NEC). No objections were filed against his nomination, as the candidate has gotten past all the initial obstacles to be put on the ballot as the leading opposition contender for the October elections against the incumbent President John Magufuli.
The deed is done!!! We’re officially nominated as Presidential and Vice-presidential candidates. Now we face anyone wishing to object to our presidential run! #NguvuYaUmma #NiYeye2020 #TunduLissu2020 #SasaBasi pic.twitter.com/vXefzOvRBG— Tundu Antiphas Lissu (@TunduALissu) August 25, 2020
In the days leading up to the NEC nomination process, there were grave concerns that his candidacy would be unlawfully blocked or interfered with by agents of the state. Amsterdam & Partners LLP, which represents Mr. Lissu, published an open letter warning about these risks, especially with regard to a court summons on trumped up sedition charges which had been scheduled for the exact same day Mr. Lissu would have to be available to respond to any challenges to the filing.
Following a significant level of global attention, the Magistrates court instead moved to adjourn his case to the following month, clearing the way forward for his candidacy.
There were numerous other moments of tension during the nomination process. Whereas President Magufuli arrived to NEC to present his nomination and was done in 15 minutes, the electoral authorities spent hours and hours interrogating the CHADEMA candidate’s nomination papers.
Seven different CHADEMA candiates were unlawfully arrested by the police when submitting their nomination forms to their respective Returning Officers. They’re thus unable to present their nomination papers.
Robert Amsterdam congratulated Lissu but warned that the struggle is far from over.
“Without a doubt this is a hugely important milestone, but in fact, it is a sad illustration of what state the country is in that the democratic opposition has to fight so hard just to be treated fairly and equally before the state bureaucracy,” said Amsterdam.
“We continue to be on high alert of further threats and interference with Mr. Lissu’s rights, and we continue to steadily engage with the international community to ensure rule of law is respected during this important period of the campaign,” he said.