Tanzania’s Opposition Fears Election Violence Because, Lissu Says, ‘We Are Winning’

Tanzania’s Opposition Fears Election Violence Because, Lissu Says, ‘We Are Winning’
President John Magufuli hands in his nomination form to the chairman of the National Electoral Commission, in Dodoma, Tanzania, Aug. 25, 2020 (AP photo).

At a jubilant rally one recent evening in the town of Geita, in northwestern Tanzania, Tundu Lissu sang along to Bob Marley’s “One Love” as he looked out on the sun setting over a sea of cheering supporters. The opposition firebrand is running to replace incumbent President John Magufuli in a general election later this month; he has been on the campaign trail since late August, drawing massive crowds at each stop.

“Everywhere I’ve gone, I’ve looked people in the eye,” Lissu told World Politics Review in an interview. “Everywhere I’ve gone, people are so happy. It’s unbelievable, and it’s uplifting.” He returned home this summer after three years in exile, part of which was spent recovering after unidentified gunmen shot him 16 times in 2017, in what he suspects was an assassination attempt.

Last Friday, however, the National Electoral Commission suspended his campaign for seven days, accusing Lissu of using “seditious language” and violating election rules. It’s the latest blow to the opposition, with the Oct. 28 elections fast approaching.

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