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Tourists cautioned: Security risks predicted for Tanzania

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Worries, anxiety and panicking are a real situation occupying lives of many foreigners residing and working in Tanzania, while tourists and other visitors have been cautioned over possible security volatility during the forthcoming General Election next Sunday.

The General Election to be carried next Sunday will see this African tourist destination getting a new president, the fifth one after independence from Britain in 1961 which gave the dissolved Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) party a mandate to lead this country under its former founder, Dr. Julius Nyerere.

But, as days drags on to election day, police and other security operatives have warned of possible clashes between political fanatics from the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party and its rivals CHADEMA and CUF parties which have joined forces to uproot the former party from political leadership and dominance.

The outgoing Tanzanian President, Mr. Jakaya Kikwete, who is the current Chairman of the ruling CCM party and which is facing a tough going, had warned voters to exit polling stations after voting to avoid possible clashes between fanatics from rival parties.

Secret police officers warned over possible security risks, mostly in the capital city of Dar es Salaam where over 2.4 million voters are expected to turn out, and in anzibar where the ruling party is facing a losing battle.

Most tourists and other visitors calling to Tanzania from this week to the end of October will be free from any risk, taking into account that most tourist attractive sites are far from big cities, while key hotels are located in areas outside cities and key tourist towns, police officials said, while still erring on the side of caution.

Likewise, the United Nations staff working or deployed to Tanzania were directed to remain in the capital city of Dar es Salaam for their personal security and warned of traveling to other parts of Tanzania until the end of October or after polling results cleared and were agreed upon by rival parties.

The UN message to its staff in Tanzania had mentioned five security risk hotspots for potential violence, which are Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar on the Indian Ocean coast, the sprawling Mbeya city in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania neighboring Zambia, Mwanza city on the shores of Lake Victoria, and the Northern Tanzania tourist city of Arusha.

The UN had also advised its staff on non-essential work to stay out of their working stations for two days after the polls close.

“The Stone Town in Zanzibar and surrounding outer areas are also hot spots and [there will] likely [be] no through roads or access to amenities,” the UN message said, quoting reports of military presence on various streets on the Island.

The United States has also alerted American citizens residing in or traveling to Tanzania to exercise caution and remain abreast of the security situation throughout the electoral period until the end of November.

“The State Department recommends U.S. citizens to maintain a high level of security awareness leading up to, during, and following the election period; [they] should avoid political rallies, polling centers, demonstrations, and crowds of any kind as even gatherings intended to be peaceful can become confrontational and turn violent,” reads the alert.

The forthcoming election is rated as the toughest and most contested in the entire history of this African country after former Tanzanian Prime Minister Edward Lowassa crossed to the opposition Chadema party as a presidential candidate.

Mr. Lowassa is a veteran politician and a once close political partner with the outgoing President, Mr. Jakaya Kikwete.

Source: Apolinari Tairo, eTN Tanzania Correspondent

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