Saturday, October 17, 2015

Govt and NEC sued over voters going home

With only 9 days to the general election, a Tanzanian Amy P. Kibatala with a last name (Kibatala) similar to that of Chadema lawyer Peter Kibatala, has filed a petition case in the High Court (Main Registry) against the government on the matter of staying away from polling stations.

to the effect that voters and the public at large are not permitted to stay any area near any polling station, not even beyond a radius of 200 meters from the said Polling Station.

The petitioner has sued both the Attorney General and Chairman of the National Elections Commission (NEC).

In a petition filed under a certificate of urgency, the petitioner wants the court to declare on the proper interpretation of the import, meaning and effect of the provisions of Section 104(1) of the National Elections Act, Cap 343, (RE 2002) On the rights of voters/interested persons to stay beyond a distance of 200 meters from where voting and tallying is taking place.

The petitioner also wants the honorable court to declare that voters/interested persons have a right to stay beyond a distance of 200 meters from where the voting and tallying is taking place without breaking the law.

The petitioner also argues that the laws of the country have been violated by the Statement by the second respondent that voters and general public are not allowed to stay any area near any Polling Station, not even beyond a radius of 200 meters in pursuance of the Provisions of Section 104(1) of the National Elections Act, Cap 343(RE 2002).

The Petitioner further submitted that on October 14, 2015 while addressing a public rally to commemorate the passing of Tanzania’s founding father, Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere, the President of the Republic, Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, reiterated the Commissions’ stance and went further to threaten that force will be used against those who did not heed the prohibition to voters to stay further than 200 meters from the polling stations.

As a registered voter who intends to utilize a basic right to stay by way of interest in the ongoing voting, during tallying, at a distance beyond 200 meters from where voting and tallying is in progress, the petitioner argues that the Commission’s and the President’s prohibitions and threat of use of force against those who do not heed to the prohibition are in violation.

According to the petition, such prohibition affects petitioner’s right to fully participate in the electoral process which was declared to be transparent, amongst others. The said rights which are enshrined collectively under Articles 18(1), 21(2) and 29(2) of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania, 1977 (as amended).

“The said prohibitions tend to deny the right to closely monitor the electoral process from a statutory distance, which will enable me to be present when the electoral results are announced at the polling station since there is no mechanism for the commission to call voters/witness any such results. It takes a person’s own efforts to be aware of the specific moment such results are announced and staying orderly at a distance beyond 200 meters would enable me to be aware as aforesaid,” part of the petition read.
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