Monday, October 19, 2015

Tanzania: Media urged to be impartial ahead of election

(Xinhua) -- Tanzanian Registrar of Political Parties, Judge Francis Mutungi, on Thursday appealed to the media fraternity to practice sobriety in reporting the final days of the electoral process to avoid being the source of breach of peace.
"There should be moral obligation towards the country. People believe in what is written in the newspapers," Judge Mutungi told editors and senior journalists in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam.

He said the fate of Tanzania during this remaining short and crucial electoral period up to the October 25 polling day was in the hands of the media.

"The media should remain sober for the sake of this nation and peace," said Judge Mutungi, adding that the media should also remain aware that there was life after the elections.

He said he knew that one of the key missions of the media was to inform the public but they were also doing business, adding:

"But I think sometimes we can put business aside and put the interests of the nation at the forefront."

Judge Mutungi said the media and other stakeholders should not be partisan to political parties and politicians should avoid making statements that were likely to cause the breach of peace.

He echoed Wednesday’s appeal by President Jakaya Kikwete to voters to stay away from polling stations after casting their votes, saying he did not break any law but he was only emphasizing statements made by the National Electoral Commission (NEC).

Speaking at the climax of the Uhuru Torch Race in Dodoma, President Kikwete said hanging around at polling centres ostensibly to "guard" votes would threaten the peace and disrupt the electoral process.

Judge Mutungi said he concurred with the head of state that polling centres should remain friendly by not being crowded, a development that could scare voters to practise their democratic right.

"We should not let the elections to be hijacked by political parties. This is the right for all Tanzanians," said Judge Mutungi.

But opposition leaders scoffed at President Kikwete’s warning, saying they would not back their resolve to guard their votes.

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