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Cablegate: Hotly Contested by-Election in Mainland Tanzania

VZCZCXRO5733
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHDR #0635/01 2750351
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 010351Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY DAR ES SALAAM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7920
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 1004
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 3192
RUEHLGB/AMEMBASSY KIGALI 1123
RUEHJB/AMEMBASSY BUJUMBURA 2687
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0417

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DAR ES SALAAM 000635

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KDEM TZ
SUBJECT: HOTLY CONTESTED BY-ELECTION IN MAINLAND TANZANIA

REF: DAR ES SALAAM 492

1. (U) SUMMARY. Remote northern Tarime district (bordering Kenya's
Nyanza Province and Lake Victoria) will elect a new Member of
Parliament October 12. The by-election has attracted national
interest, with the contending parties devoting substantial resources
to the race. Even two weeks in advance and despite a substantial
police presence, tensions have erupted into sporadic violence.
Embassy will send an observer team in coordination with other
missions. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) Tarime district, the northernmost in Mara region, borders
Kenya to the north and Lake Victoria to the west and has a
population of approximately 500,000: majority ethnic Kurya
(Kuria/Bantu) and minority ethnic Luo (Nilotic). The by-election
will take place against a background of local violence among Kurya
clans. Clashes in August and September, reportedly over
long-running land issues and marijuana cultivation, resulted in
several deaths and the burning of houses and granaries. The
inter-clan violence appears not to have direct political impact,
since both candidates, like the former incumbent, have promised to
end ethnic-based fighting in the district.

3. (SBU) The by-election in Tarime came about due to the death of
charismatic opposition MP, Chacha Wangwe, in July 2008, in a car
accident (reftel). The circumstances of Wangwe's death remain
controversial - there have been various unsubstantiated allegations
that the death was not accidental. Roughly two weeks before his
death, Wangwe had been suspended from his position as vice chairman
of his party, CHADEMA (Democracy and Development Party), after a
leadership fight with party Chairman Freeman Mbowe. Wangwe had
accused his party publicly of misuse of party resources. (Lurid
accusations under such circumstances are the norm.)

4. (U) The parties and their candidates:

-- CCM (Party of the Revolution) has ruled Tanzania since
independence (allowing for a change of name in 1975) and won an
overwhelming majority of National Assembly seats (206 of 232
contested) in the 2005 elections. CCM held the Tarime seat from the
introduction of multi-party politics in 1992 until 2005. The CCM
candidate is Ryoba Kangoye, a Tanzania Revenue Authority official
who lives in Dar es Salaam. Kangoye had sought the seat in 2005,
but was defeated by CCM's then-incumbent in intra-party
competition.

-- CHADEMA won 5 seats in the 2005 elections on an anti-corruption
and good governance platform. Its candidate is Charles Nyanguru,
Chairman of the Tarime District Council, where CHADEMA has a slim
majority of seats.

-- Other opposition parties decided to align informally behind the
CHADEMA candidate, in order to give him a realistic chance of
winning against CCM. (NOTE: In addition to his seat in Parliament,
Wangwe was a ward councilor. In addition to CCM and CHADEMA, the
Civic United Front (CUF) - the largest national opposition party -
and smaller parties have fielded candidates to fill that vacancy.
END NOTE.)

5. (U) Despite CCM's vast parliamentary majority, the party is
making a major push to win back the Tarime seat. CCM national
leadership, including the party's Vice Chairman and General
Secretary, have been campaigning in Tarime. Leaders of CHADEMA have
also spent prolonged periods in the district. (NOTE: In February
2008, another by-election took place without significant disruption
and with less national attention. However, that election, in
Manyara region, saw CCM easily maintain its hold on a seat left
vacant by the death of a lesser-known CCM backbencher. END NOTE.)

6. (SBU) Tensions appear to be on the increase in Tarime as the
election approaches. A police contingent of over 400 officers has
taken residence in Tarime town with a mandate to maintain order.
The major parties have traded claims that the other is creating
disturbances. The CCM Vice Chairman reportedly said he would call
on President Kikwete to deploy military forces. CHADEMA has claimed
some of its members have been arbitrarily arrested by the police,
and has accused the GOT of interfering on CCM's behalf. Police have
arrested several people for violence, including for attacks on a
CHADEMA campaign van and for throwing rocks at the leader of a small
opposition party who asserted publicly that Wangwe's death was not
accidental. There have also been arrests, including of a police
officer, for attempting to buy or sell voting cards.

7. (U) Embassy will field a team to observe election practices in
Tarime, in coordination with several EU countries and Canada. In
addition, the UK will lead a group of Chiefs of Mission to the

DAR ES SAL 00000635 002 OF 002


district a week ahead of the by-election, to carry the message that
the international community expects the by-election to be conducted
freely and fairly. CDA will join that effort along with a mix of
European, Asian and African missions from Community of Democracies
countries. The British High Commissioner reports that the National
Electoral Commission (NEC) has warmly welcomed the visit of the COMs
to Tarime.

8. (SBU) Poloff recently called on NEC Director of Elections Rajaab
Kiravu. Kiravu said the NEC was prepared for the Tarime by-election
on the management side: an updated and validated voter list and
balloting materials would be ready in time. However, he criticized
the campaigns as "lacking tolerance."

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