Tanzanian main opposition presidential candidate Tundu Lissu has been suspended from election campaign activities for seven days after he was accused of making seditious statements during one of his rallies.
In a statement on Friday, the National Electoral Commission (NEC) said Mr Lissu will remain suspended effective October 3, 2020, for breaching the elections code of ethics.
NEC’s Ethics Committee secretary Emmanuel Kawishe said the commission had received complaints from two political parties – the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) and the National Reconstruction Alliance (NRA) – regarding statements made by the Chadema candidate at a rally in northern Mara region.
Mr Lissu is alleged to have claimed that President John Magufuli had convened a meeting with elections returning officers, referred to as district executive directors (DEDs), in the capital Dodoma to plot on the elections. The DEDs are appointed by the president.
Mr Kawishe said the committee wrote Chadema informing Mr Lissu to file his defence but the party’s secretary-general said the letter should have been addressed to the presidential candidate personally and not the party.
“The Ethics Committee is satisfied that notice for breach of code of ethics presented to the party is right according to Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania (1977) because Mr Tundu Lissu has been sponsored by Chadema to run for president,” Mr Kawishe said.
He said all complaints with regards to campaign processes are channelled through secretaries-general of political parties.
“Eleven members out of 15 have agreed that the complaints were presented according to the procedure, while two said the presentation did not follow procedure,” reads the statement.
The Ethics Committee said it found the presidential candidate is guilty of making seditious remarks, violating section 21(a) and (n) of the code of ethics for presidential, parliamentarian and councillorship elections.
Mr Lissu, who can appeal against the decision to Appellate Committee, is allowed to return to the campaign trail on October 9.
On Thursday, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Simon Sirro directed Mr Lissu to report to Moshi Police Station for interrogation after he was accused of scolding the police when his convoy was hit by teargas on his way to Mara earlier this week.
In Dar es Salaam, on Thursday, the chief of criminal investigation officer Camillus Wambura also summoned Mr Lissu over the same allegations but his boss, Special Zone Police Commander Lazaro Mambosasa revoked the summons on Friday morning saying there was no need for fresh summons after the IGP’s directive.
Tanzania will hold its general election on October 28.