Section 3. Freedom to Participate in the Political Process

The constitution and law provide citizens the ability to choose their government through free and fair elections based on universal and equal suffrage, but government restrictions on the formation of opposition parties limited that ability in practice. The law provides for voting by secret ballot in presidential and parliamentary–but not local–elections. The RPF and allied parties controlled the government and legislature, and its candidates dominated elections at all levels.

Elections and Political Participation

Recent Elections: Elections for parliament’s lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, in 2013 were peaceful and orderly, but according to international observers did not meet the generally recognized standards for free and fair elections. In 2010 voters elected President Paul Kagame to a second seven-year term with 93 percent of the vote; the National Electoral Commission (NEC) reported that 97.5 percent of the population participated in the election. Observers’ confidence in the integrity of electoral results was undermined by their being denied access to vote tabulation at the polling station, district, and national level. Opposition parties experienced difficulties in registering candidates ahead of the elections, depriving voters of a meaningful choice at the polls.

In 2015 the government held a constitutional referendum on a set of amendments that included provisions that would allow the president to run for up to three additional terms in office. The NEC reported 98 percent of registered voters participated, and 98 percent endorsed a set of amendments that retained term limits and included provisions that shorten the terms in office of the president and prime minister from seven years to five years but also provided an exception that would allow President Kagame to run for up to three additional terms in office (one seven-year term and up to two five-year terms). The text of the amendments was not generally available to voters for review prior to the referendum, and political parties opposed to the amendments were not permitted to hold rallies or public meetings to express their opposition to the amendments. Observers noted authorities strongly encouraged citizens to commit to supporting the amendments during “umuganda,” the monthly mandatory day of community service. Independent international observers did not monitor or report on the conduct of the referendum.

Political Parties and Political Participation: The constitution outlines a multiparty system but provides few rights for parties and their candidates. There were some reports the RPF pressured youth into joining the party during mandatory “ingando” civic and military training camps after completing secondary school and “itorero” cultural school, which promoted patriotism in addition to inculcating national customs. There were also reports RPF members pressured teachers, clergy, and businesspersons to join the party and coerced political donations from both party members and nonmembers. Political parties allied to the RPF were largely able to operate freely, but members faced legal sanctions if found guilty of engaging in divisive acts, destabilizing national unity, threatening territorial integrity, or undermining national security.

The Democratic Green Party of Rwanda (DGPR) was registered officially as a political party in 2013, after the government blocked its attempts to register in 2009 and 2010. Authorities, however, granted the registration just one working day before candidate lists for the 2013 Chamber of Deputies elections were due, and the DGPR was unable to register candidates for the election. DGPR leaders reported the party was permitted to publish policy proposals as alternatives to RPF policy and hold small meetings with party supporters. Local officials, however, often threatened DGPR members with dismissal from employment or the withholding of state services unless they left the party. In 2014 the organizing secretary for DGPR, Jean Damascene Munyeshyaka, disappeared after meeting with an unknown individual in the town of Nyamata, Bugesera District. Police reported no developments regarding his disappearance during the year.

Party leaders for the unregistered opposition party Democratic Pact of the Imanzi People (PDP-Imanzi) and a splinter party, the People’s Democratic Alliance (PDA), continued to seek permission to hold a founding party congress following the cancellation of the PDP-Imanzi congress in Gasabo District in 2013. The Ministry of Local Government and local officials continued to deny PDP-Imanzi and PDA permission to hold such a meeting, citing the two parties’ connections to Deo Mushayidi, who remained incarcerated on state security charges (see section 1.e., Political Prisoners and Detainees).

The government no longer required but strongly encouraged all registered political parties to join the National Consultative Forum for Political Organizations, which sought to promote consensus among political parties, and required member parties to support publicly policy positions developed through dialogue. At year’s end all registered parties were members of the organization. Government officials praised it for promoting political unity, while critics argued it stifled political competition and public debate.

Opposition leaders reported police arbitrarily arrested and beat some members of the unregistered Social Party-Imberakuri (Bernard Ntaganda faction), PDP-Imanzi, and FDU-Inkingi parties. Party members reported receiving threats because of their association with those parties.

In accordance with the constitution, which states a majority party in the Chamber of Deputies may not fill more than 50 percent of cabinet positions, independents and members of other political parties allied with the RPF held key positions in government, including that of prime minister and foreign minister. The Social Party-Imberakuri and the DGPR were not represented in the cabinet.

Participation of Women and Minorities: To register as a political party, an organization must present a list of at least 200 members, with at least five members in each of the 30 districts, and it must reserve at least 30 percent of its leadership positions for women.

Women secured 64 percent of seats in the 2013 Chamber of Deputies elections. Domestic observers noted, however, that lawmakers (male and female) in parliament’s lower house appeared to lack capacity and power to influence policy or advance legislation.


Section 3. Freedom to Participate in the Political Process

The provisional constitution provides citizens the ability to choose their government in free and fair periodic elections, held by secret ballot and based on universal and equal suffrage, but citizens could not exercise that ability.

Elections and Political Participation

Recent Elections: In 2015 the FGS decided direct elections during the year would not be possible due to security concerns; it subsequently developed a plan for indirect elections by electoral colleges selected by elders. Indirect elections for the lower house of parliament, the new upper house, and the president, scheduled for August and September, had not been completed by year’s end. Nevertheless, indirect elections for the lower house expanded the electorate from 135 elders to 14,025 electoral college delegates selected by the elders; 51 delegates selected by clan elders were responsible for voting on each lower house seat, and delegates were required to include 30 percent (16) women and 10 youths. Although 90 percent of the lower and upper house elections had concluded by year’s end, elections for parliamentary leadership and a president had not begun. Allegations of vote-buying, intimidation, threats, interference by federal and regional officials, violence, and kidnapping were widespread ahead of voting.

In 2012 the TFG completed the 2011 Roadmap for Ending the Transition, collaborating with representatives of Puntland, Galmudug, the ASWJ, and the international community. The process included drafting a provisional federal constitution, forming an 825-member National Constituent Assembly (NCA) that ratified the provisional constitution, selecting a 275-member federal parliament, and holding speakership and presidential elections. The FGS was scheduled to review and amend the provisional constitution and submit it for approval in a national referendum by year’s end, but the process was not completed.

Under the 2012 roadmap process, 135 traditional clan elders convened in Mogadishu to nominate 825 NCA delegates to consider the provisional federal constitution. The elders also nominated candidates for the country’s 275-member federal parliament to serve four-year terms under the provisional constitution. There were accusations of bribery and intimidation involved in the selection of the 135 traditional elders and in their nomination of parliamentarians, but overall the roadmap signatories and others viewed parliamentarians as broadly representative of their communities.

In the presence of international observers, the parliament in 2012 held an indirect presidential election by secret ballot in which Hassan Sheikh Mohamud defeated incumbent TFG president Sheikh Sharif in the second and final round of voting. There were unsubstantiated reports of presidential candidates’ bribing parliamentarians in exchange for their vote. Sheikh Sharif conceded defeat and described the vote as fair.

Somaliland laws prevent citizens in its region from participating in FGS-related processes.

In 2012 Puntland’s constituent assembly overwhelmingly adopted a state constitution that enshrines a multiparty political system. In 2014 Abdiweli Mohamed Ali “Gaas” defeated incumbent President Abdirahman Mohamed Mohamed “Farole” by one parliamentary vote in a run-off election broadcast live on local television and radio stations. President Farole accepted the results. Parliament also elected Abdihakim Abdulahi as the new vice president.

The ISWA state parliament was formed in December 2015 following the 2014 state formation conference, which voted to elect Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adam as the interim region’s first president.

In 2015 the FGS officially inaugurated the 89-member IGA assembly; the 89 members had been selected by 40 traditional elders representing 11 subclans. In July 2015 the assembly elected Abdikarim Hussein Guled as the IGA’s first president. The ASWJ refused to accept the election results and unilaterally established its own self-declared administration for those parts of the IGA it controlled.

Parliamentary elections in Somaliland, last held in 2005, were overdue. Somaliland president Ahmed Mohamed Mohamud “Silanyo” was elected in 2010. International and domestic observers declared the election free and fair. Somaliland has a bicameral parliament consisting of an appointed 86-member House of Elders, known as the Guurti, and an elected 82-member House of Representatives with proportional clan representation. In April the House of Elders voted to postpone the delayed elections for the House of Representatives and president until March 2017. On September 10, however, Silanyo announced that parliamentary and presidential elections would be separated, prompting another delay of the parliamentary polls and another term extension. A new date for parliamentary elections had not been set by year’s end. There were allegations the House of Elders was subject to political corruption and undue influence.

In 2013 the FGS and Jubaland delegates signed an agreement that resulted in the FGS’s formal recognition of the newly formed IJA. Ahmed Mohamed Islam “Madobe” was selected as president in a 2013 conference of elders and representatives.

In January the FGS launched the state formation conference for Hiiraan and Middle Shabelle Regions, the final federal member state to be constituted within the federal system. The process concluded with the formation of Hirshabelle state in October, the formation of the Hirshabelle assembly on October 10, and the election of Hirshabelle president Ali Abdullahi Osoble on October 17. The state formation process was marred by allegations that the FGS president interfered with the process to influence the Somali presidential elections by placing his supporters in key positions in the new state administration and providing for significant representation by his subclan. The traditional leader of the Hawadle subclan, a large constituency in Hiiraan, refused to participate.

Al-Shabaab prohibited citizens in the areas it controlled from changing their al-Shabaab administrators. Some al-Shabaab administrations, however, consulted local traditional elders on specific issues and allowed preexisting district committees to remain in place.

Political Parties and Political Participation: In September the president signed the political parties law, which created the first framework for legal political parties since 1969, when former president Siad Barre banned political activities after taking power in a coup. Prior to September, however, several political associations had operated as parties. For example, the FGS president claimed to be elected from the Peace and Development Party in 2012. The provisional constitution provides that every citizen has the right to take part in public affairs and that this right includes forming political parties, participating in their activities, and being elected for any position within a political party.

The Somaliland and Puntland constitutions and electoral legislation limit the number of political parties to three and established conditions pertaining to their political programs, finances, and constitutions.

On February 22, security forces arbitrarily arrested the deputy chairperson of the Banadiri Political Reformation Council following a public gathering of supporters in Mogadishu to advocate for Banadiri community rights. He was released after three days.

Participation of Women and Minorities: There are no laws limiting the participation of women in the political process, and women participated. Cultural factors, however, limited women’s participation. While roadmap signatories agreed that women should hold at least 30 percent of the seats in the federal parliament prior to the country’s transition to a permanent government, women held only 14 percent of 275 seats in parliament. Notwithstanding efforts to structure indirect elections to meet the 30 percent quota met significant resistance from clan elders, political leaders, and religious leaders, women’s representation in parliament increased to 25 percent. The 26-member cabinet had only one woman after one female minister resigned during the year and a second was removed; both were replaced by men.

Civil society, minority clans, and Puntland authorities called for the abolition of the “4.5 formula” by which political representation was divided among the four major clans, with the minority clans combined as the remaining “0.5” share. This system allocated to minority clans a fixed and low number of slots in the federal parliament. Under the provisional constitution, the electoral process was intended to be direct and, thus, diverge from the 4.5 formula, but federal and regional leaders decided in April to revert to the 4.5 formula in determining lower house composition. Former prime minister Abdiweli and Prime Minister Sharmarke maintained the same ratio of minority representation when expanding the cabinet until June, when two of the three female ministers were replaced with men.

Somaliland had two women in its 86-member House of Representatives. The sole woman occupying a seat in the House of Elders gained appointment after her husband, who occupied the seat, resigned in 2012. Women traditionally were excluded from the House of Elders. There were two female ministers among the 24 cabinet ministers.

A woman chaired the Somaliland Human Rights Commission, while a minority youth served as deputy chair. The Somaliland president kept a presidential advisor on minority problems. In August, President Silanyo appointed a member of the Dhulbahante, a politically marginalized subclan within Somaliland, to lead the Interior Ministry, which is responsible for complaints of marginalization by minority communities in the Sool and Sanaag contested regions.

Women have never served on the Council of Elders in Puntland. Traditional clan elders, all men, selected members of Puntland’s House of Representatives. Two women served in the 66-member House of Representatives. The minister of women and family affairs and the minister of constitution, federalism, and democratization were women. The nine-member electoral commission included one woman.


Section 3. Freedom to Participate in the Political Process

The country continued to operate under the Interim National Constitution of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The constitution provides citizens the ability to choose their government in free and fair periodic elections based on universal and equal suffrage. Citizens were unable to exercise this right in practice. Post-CPA provisions provide for a referendum on the status of Abyei and popular consultations in Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan. In Abyei the Ngok Dinka held a unilateral referendum in October 2013, which the international community did not recognize. No popular consultations took place during the year in either Southern Kordofan or Blue Nile.

Several parts of the CPA, designed to clarify the status of southern-aligned groups remaining in the north following South Sudan’s secession continued to be the subject of negotiations between the governments of Sudan, South Sudan, and rebel groups. Peace negotiations for the Two Areas and Darfur continued to stall while fighting between government and antigovernment forces continued. Neither Sudan nor South Sudan progressed toward a resolution on the final status of Abyei.

The Darfur Referendum, which took place April 11-13, was conducted to determine whether Darfur would be administered via the current system of five states or as one regional administration. Observers from the African Union and the League of Arab States monitored the referendum. The Darfur Referendum Commission announced on April 14 that 97.27 percent of voters had opted to keep Darfur’s current administrative configuration. Human rights observers said the government believed a unified Darfur would give rebels a platform to push for independence just as South Sudan did successfully in 2011.

Elections and Political Participation

Recent Elections: The national-level executive and legislative elections, held April 13-16, 2015, did not meet international standards. The government failed to create a free, fair, and conducive elections environment. Restrictions on political rights and freedoms, lack of a credible national dialogue, and the continuation of armed conflict on the country’s peripheries contributed to a very low voter turnout. Observers noted numerous problems with the preelection environment. The legal framework did not protect basic freedoms of assembly, speech, and press. Security forces restricted the actions of opposition parties and arrested opposition members and supporters. Additionally, there were reported acts of violence during the election period (see section 1.c.).

The main opposition parties, Umma National Party, National Consensus Forces, Sudanese Congress Party, Sudanese Communist Party, and the Popular Congress Party, boycotted the election; only the ruling NCP party and National Unity parties participated.

According to the chair of the National Election Commission, 5,584,863 votes were counted in the election, representing approximately a 46 percent participation rate. According to the AU and other observers, however, turnout was considerably lower. Following the elections the National Assembly consisted of 426 seats (Upper House). The NCP held 323 seats, Democratic Unionist Party 25, and independents 19 seats; other minor political parties won the remaining seats. The independents, many of whom were previously ejected from the ruling NCP, were prevented by the government from forming a parliamentary group. The States Council (Lower House) consisted of 54 members with each state represented by three members. The NCP had 36 members in the Lower House.

General elections for president and the National Assembly are scheduled to be held every five years. The next general election is scheduled for 2020. The previous (nation-wide excluding conflict areas) gubernatorial election was held in April 2010. The National Assembly changed the constitution in January 2015 to authorize the president to appoint the governors instead of the voter selecting them. Under this amendment, Bashir appointed 18 state governors.

Political Parties and Political Participation: The NCP dominated the political landscape, controlling all of the regional governorships and holding a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly. Other parties held the remaining seats, with the Original Democratic Unionist Party holding 25 seats, independents holding 19, and the Registered Faction Democratic Unionist Party holding 15 seats.

The Political Parties Affairs Council listed 92 registered political parties; organizers of the national dialogue concurred there were more than 90 political parties. The Umma Party and the Democratic Unionist Party were never registered with the government. The Reform Now Party registered as a political party during the year. A new political coalition, the Future Forces for Change, was established and included the Reform Now Party, Justice Forum for Peace, and disaffected former NCP member Farah Aggar. The government continued to harass some opposition leaders who spoke with representatives of foreign organizations or embassies or travelled abroad (see section 2.d.).

The Political Parties Affairs Council oversees the registration of political parties. The ruling party controls the council; it is not an independent body. The council continued to refuse to register the Republican (Jamhori) Party, which opposes Islamic extremism and promotes secularism. The party leader condemned the decision and filed a complaint in the Constitutional Court.

Authorities monitored and impeded political party meetings and activities, restricted political party demonstrations, used excessive force to break them up, and arrested opposition party members.

In January 2014 the president announced a national dialogue to engage all political parties, including the opposition, civil society, and others, in a planning framework to recommend, initiate, and implement democratic reforms. The government also described the dialogue as a mechanism for resolving conflicts throughout the country and determining a constitutional framework. While some opposition groups agreed to participate, most major opposition parties withdrew from the dialogue early in 2014.

Early in 2015 the government announced it would postpone holding a national dialogue until after national elections in April 2015, and it amended the Interim National Constitution. In March 2015 the government failed to attend an AU-facilitated meeting aimed at securing inclusion of opposition and armed groups in the national dialogue. Nonetheless, in August 2015 President Bashir chaired a meeting of the High Coordinating Committee of the National Dialogue. The government launched the dialogue in October 2015, although major opposition parties and rebel groups continued to boycott the process.

On October 10, the government concluded its two-year-long national dialogue process, bringing in regional officials, such as the Egyptian and Ugandan presidents, to support claims the process was legitimate and inclusive. President Bashir announced a two-month extension of the ceasefire in Darfur and the Two Areas of South Kordofan and Blue Nile to convey sincerity in establishing a new political path forward. In a move that observers regarded as an outgrowth of the national dialogue, in late December, parliament voted to reinstate the post of prime minister, a position that was abolished in 1989, after Bashir came to power.

Participation of Women and Minorities: Women have the right to vote. In July 2014 the National Assembly increased from 25 to 30 percent the proportion of seats in the national and state assemblies drawn from state-level women’s lists.

A few religious minorities participated in government. There were prominent Coptic Christian politicians within the National Assembly, Khartoum city government, and Khartoum state assembly. A member of the national election commission was Coptic. A female Anglican served as the state minister of water resources and electricity.


Section 3. Freedom to Participate in the Political Process

Civil and political rights were severely restricted. Citizens did not have the ability to choose their government in free and fair periodic elections held by secret ballot, and political parties remained unable to register, contest elections, or otherwise participate in formation of a government. The king is an absolute monarch with ultimate decision-making authority. Some prodemocracy organizations were banned. There is no legal mechanism by which political parties may compete in elections. The Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) did not permit candidates of political parties to register under the names of their parties. Legislation passed by parliament requires the king’s consent to become law. Under the constitution the king selects the prime minister, the cabinet, two-thirds of the senate, 10 of 65 members of the house, many senior civil servants, the chief justice and other justices of the superior courts, members of commissions established by the constitution, and the heads of government offices. On the advice of the prime minister, the king appoints the cabinet from among members of parliament.

Elections and Political Participation

Recent Elections: In 2013 peaceful and generally well-managed parliamentary elections took place, the second time since the constitution went into effect in 2006, and the king appointed a government. International observers concluded the elections did not meet international standards. Political parties could not register or sponsor candidates of their choice.

Ballots were cast in secrecy but could be traced by registration number to individual voters, and some ballot boxes were not properly protected. There were accusations of bribery and widespread reports citizens were advised that if they did not register to vote, they would no longer receive government services.

Political Parties and Political Participation: The government harassed and detained opposition members and openly stated it did not want political parties in the country. The constitution provides for freedom of association but does not address how political parties may operate and contest elections. While political parties existed, there was no legal mechanism for them to register or contest elections. The constitution also states candidates for public office must compete on their individual merit, thereby effectively blocking competition based on political party affiliation. For example, the EBC denied participation in the 2013 parliamentary elections to two members of the Ngwane National Liberatory Congress party, who then filed an application with the High Court to compel the EBC to register them. The registrar of the High Court refused to put the matter on the docket.

Participation in the traditional sphere of governance and politics takes place predominantly through chiefdoms. Chiefs are custodians of traditional law and custom, report directly to the king, and are responsible for the day-to-day running of their chiefdoms and maintenance of law and order. Although local custom mandates that chieftaincy is hereditary, the constitution, while recognizing that chieftaincy is “usually hereditary and is regulated by Swazi law and custom,” also states the king “may appoint any person to be chief over any area.” As a result many chieftaincies were nonhereditary appointments, a fact that provoked land disputes, especially at the time of the passing and burial of chiefs.

Participation of Women and Minorities: The constitution provides for 55 of the 65 seats in the House of Assembly to be popularly contested and for the king to appoint the remaining 10 members. The constitution provides for five of the 10 to be women and for the other five to represent “interests, including marginalized groups not already adequately represented in the house.” In addition, the constitution stipulates that if less than 30 percent of assembly members are women, four additional women shall be selected on a regional basis. The king appointed only three women to the House of Assembly following the elections, in which only one woman was elected, and although less than 30 percent of its members were women, the assembly did not select four additional women. Civil society, members of parliament, and women’s advocacy organizations urged the assembly to fulfill this constitutional requirement.

The king appoints 20 members of the 30-seat Senate, and the House of Assembly elects the other 10. The constitution provides that eight of the 20 members appointed by the king be women and that five of the 10 members elected by the assembly be women. Following the elections, the king filled five of the eight designated seats with women, while the House of Assembly named five women to the Senate.

Widows in mourning (for periods that may vary from one to three years) were prevented from appearing in certain public places or being in proximity to the king or a chief’s official residence. As a result widows were excluded from voting or running for office or taking active public roles in their communities during those periods. For example, in August widows or those in mourning were not permitted to participate in the People’s Parliament gathering.

There were almost no ethnic minority members in the government. Many officials were from the royal family or connected with royalty.


Section 3. Freedom to Participate in the Political Process

The constitution provides citizens the ability to participate in public elections, but it allows parliament to restrict this right if a citizen is a citizen of another state, mentally infirm, convicted of certain criminal offenses, or omits or fails to prove or produce evidence as to age, citizenship, or registration as a voter. Citizens exercised that ability for the union presidential elections. The chairperson of the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) announced he had nullified the October 2015 Zanzibar elections; new elections in March were neither inclusive nor representative.

Elections and Political Participation

Recent Elections: In October 2015 the country held its fifth multiparty general election in which voters elected a new president and legislative representatives. The union elections were judged to be largely free and fair. The CCM, however, benefited from vastly superior financial and institutional resources.

In the presidential election, John Magufuli, the CCM candidate, was elected with 58 percent of the vote to replace Jakaya Kikwete, who was not eligible to run for a third term. Four opposition parties combined in the Coalition for the People’s Constitution to support a single candidate, who ran under the Chadema banner, as the law does not recognize coalitions. In parliamentary elections the CCM retained its majority in parliament with nearly 73 percent of the seats.

Separate elections are held for the union and for Zanzibar, ordinarily on the same day, in which citizens of the two parts of the union elect local officials, members of the national parliament, and a union (national) president. Additionally, Zanzibar separately elects a president of Zanzibar and members of the Zanzibar House of Representatives. The voting in Zanzibar in October 2015 was judged to be largely free and fair. Following the vote, however, when tabulation of the results was more than half completed, the chairperson of the ZEC announced he had nullified the Zanzibar elections, although according to the constitution and law, the commission does not have the authority to do so. This decision precipitated a political crisis in the semiautonomous archipelago, with the opposition candidate declaring he had won. New elections in March were neither inclusive nor representative. They were boycotted by the opposition, which claimed they would not be fair. Following the new elections, the ZEC announced President Shein had won with 91 percent of the vote, with the ruling CCM party sweeping nearly all seats in the Zanzibar House of Representatives. Official voter turnout was announced at 68 percent, although numerous sources estimated actual turnout at closer to 25 percent.

From February to August 2015, officials conducted national registration of voters using a Biometric Voter Registration system that collected a photograph and two thumb prints. Registration concluded with 22,751,292 eligible voters registered on the mainland and 503,193 registered in Zanzibar.

Political Parties and Political Participation: The constitution requires that persons running for office must represent a registered political party. The law prohibits unregistered parties. The number of political parties with full registration remained at 22 during the year.

The registrar of political parties has sole authority to approve registration of any political party and is responsible for enforcing regulations on registered parties. Parties granted provisional registration may hold public meetings and recruit members. To secure full registration, parties must submit lists of at least 200 members in 10 of the country’s 31 regions, including two of the five regions of Zanzibar. In September the registration of new political parties was suspended indefinitely for lack of funds, according to the registrar.

The law requires political parties to support the union between Tanganyika (mainland Tanzania) and Zanzibar; parties based on ethnic, regional, or religious affiliation are prohibited.

During the year the president stated political activity should be confined only to parliamentary business and interaction between members of parliament and their constituents until the next election cycle in 2020. On May 7, police barred a group of political opposition leaders from entering their party regional offices, on the grounds that no political activity was allowed to take place in the region. On June 7, the TPF banned indefinitely all political rallies across the country, claiming such meetings were intended to incite civil disobedience. On August 23, the inspector general of police extended the ban to include indoor private meetings and public rallies; the indoor restriction was lifted on September 22.

The election law provides for a “gratuity” payment of TZS 235 million to TZS 280 million ($108,000-129,000) to MPs completing a five-year term. Incumbents can use these funds in re-election campaigns. Several NGOs and opposition parties criticized this provision for impeding aspiring opposition parliamentary candidates from mounting effective challenges.

The mainland government allowed political opponents unrestricted access to public media, but the ruling party had far more funding to purchase broadcast time.

Participation of Women and Minorities: Some observers believed cultural constraints limited women’s participation in politics. In the October 2015 election, Tanzania elected a woman as vice president for the first time. Few women won elected constituent seats in parliament or in the Zanzibar House of Representatives. There were special women’s seats in both parliament and the Zanzibar House of Representatives.


Section 3. Freedom to Participate in the Political Process

The constitution provides citizens the ability to choose their government in free and fair periodic elections held by secret ballot and based on universal and equal suffrage, and citizens exercised that ability.

Elections and Political Participation

Recent Elections: In April 2015 President Faure Gnassingbe was re-elected to a third five-year term with 59 percent of the vote. International and national observers monitoring the election declared it generally free, fair, transparent, and peaceful, although there were logistical shortcomings. Security forces did not interfere with voting or other aspects of the electoral process; they played no role and remained in their barracks on election day.

Political Parties and Political Participation: The UNIR party dominated politics and maintained firm control over all levels of government. UNIR membership conferred advantages, such as better access to government jobs.

Participation of Women and Minorities: There are no laws limiting the participation of women and members of minorities. Some observers believed cultural and traditional practices prevented women from voting, running for office, serving as electoral monitors, or otherwise participating in political life on the same basis as men. For example, only 17.6 percent of parliamentarians were women (16 of 91). Members of southern ethnic groups remained underrepresented in both government and the military.


Section 3. Freedom to Participate in the Political Process

The constitution and law provide citizens the ability to choose their government through free and fair periodic elections held by secret ballot and based on universal and equal suffrage. Nevertheless, the February 18 presidential and National Assembly elections were marred by serious irregularities.

Elections and Political Participation

Recent Elections: On February 18, the country held its fifth presidential and legislative elections since President Museveni came to power in 1986. The president was reelected with 61 percent of the vote, and FDC candidate Besigye finished second with 36 percent. The ruling NRM party captured approximately 70 percent of the seats in the 431-member unicameral National Assembly.

Domestic and international election observers stated that the elections fell short of international standards for credible democratic elections. The Commonwealth Observer Mission’s report noted flawed processes, and the EU’s report noted an atmosphere of intimidation and police use of excessive force against opposition supporters, media workers, and the general public. Domestic and international election observers noted biased media coverage and the Electoral Commission’s (EC’s) lack of transparency and independence.

Media reported voter bribery, multiple voting, ballot box stuffing, and the alteration of precinct and district results.

Late delivery of voting materials on election day, including ballots, disenfranchised many voters. The most significant delays–up to eight hours–occurred in opposition-affiliated areas, including Kampala and Wakiso districts. While the EC extended voting from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at a number of polling stations that experienced delayed starts, officials at more than 30 of the most delayed stations cancelled voting and postponed it to the following day.

From February 19 to 29, the 10-day period during which opposition candidates could contest election results, police confined Besigye to his home and limited his access to lawyers and party leadership. Besigye’s lawyers claimed police actions rendered it impossible for Besigye to file a legal challenge to election results, although Amama Mbabazi, who came third in the election, did challenge election results. On March 20, the Supreme Court upheld Museveni’s victory, ruling that any incidents of noncompliance with electoral laws before and during the election process did not substantially affect results. On August 26, the Supreme Court recommended changes to electoral laws to increase fairness, including campaign finance reform and equal access for all candidates to state-owned media. The Supreme Court instructed the attorney general to report in two years on government implementation of reforms.

Political Parties and Political Participation: There were 29 registered parties, according to the EC. Security forces arbitrarily arrested and detained opposition leaders and intimidated and beat their supporters. While the ruling NRM party operated without restriction, regularly holding rallies and conducting political activities, authorities often prevented opposition parties and critical civil society organizations from organizing meetings or conducting activities. Authorities denied opposition parties access to media.

Domestic election observer groups, such as the Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy, FHRI, and Citizens’ Election Observers Network (CEON-U), reported authorities denied observers access to some stations and district tally centers. Security forces reportedly questioned the leaders of some groups after they released reports critical of the electoral process. In some districts resident district commissioners, who were the president’s district level representatives, ordered accreditation committees to deny accreditation to CEON-U observers.

Participation of Women and Minorities: The law requires elections for seats reserved for special interest groups: 117 for women, five for labor, five for persons with disabilities, five for youth, and 10 for the UPDF. A single government-supported NGO organized an electoral college process that selected the five representatives for persons with disabilities.

Cultural factors limited women’s political participation. CEON-U reported incidents of electoral intimidation in the Acholi, Rwenzori, Buganda, Karamoja, Teso, and Lango Regions that specifically targeted women. CEON-U also reported that amended laws to increase the fee required to nominate a candidate disproportionately affected women, who had less access to financial resources than their male counterparts. The law requires candidates seeking political public office to pay the government a nonrefundable nomination fee, which varied by position.


Section 3. Freedom to Participate in the Political Process

Although the constitution provides citizens with the right to choose their government in free and fair periodic elections based on universal and equal suffrage and conducted by secret ballot, this right was restricted. The political process continued to be heavily biased in favor of the ruling ZANU-PF party, which has dominated politics and government and manipulated electoral results since independence in 1980.

Elections and Political Participation

Recent Elections: Aside from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU), international and local independent observers characterized the 2013 harmonized presidential, parliamentary, and local elections as largely free of violence but not credible reflections of the people’s will. Before the election various political parties and civil society organizations complained of widespread voter disenfranchisement in opposition urban strongholds. The Constitutional Court set the 2013 date for elections. Participating political parties, including the two MDCs that were part of the coalition government, contested the date in court. ZANU-PF ministers in government opposed and stalled the pre-election legal, political, media, and security sector reforms mandated by the SADC-sponsored Global Political Agreement between ZANU-PF and the two MDCs. Parliament failed to pass laws to improve the fairness of the elections, while certain government elements failed to implement other election laws. Despite a constitutional provision of citizenship, large groups of the population were refused registration as voters because of their foreign ancestry. Other contraventions of the electoral act included a truncated special voter registration period, partisan public statements by senior security force officers, and active-duty police officers running for public office in contravention of the law.

While the law obliges traditional chiefs to be impartial, in rural areas ZANU-PF used traditional leaders to mobilize voters and canvass support. In return traditional leaders continued to receive farms, vehicles, houses, and other benefits.

The credibility and independence of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) were called into question for allegedly being composed largely of personnel from the pro-ZANU-PF security sector. The ZEC failed to provide an electronic copy of the voter register to any of the opposition political parties as required by law, but it supplied one hard copy of the voters roll to the MDC-T late on election day. The ZEC also failed to respond, as required by law, to legal and formal complaints by opposition parties with respect to its role in monitoring the media, postal voting procedures, and the number of ballots printed and distributed. When the ZEC released the election results, President Mugabe won with more than 61 percent of the vote, and he was inaugurated three weeks later. President Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party won a two-thirds majority in the 350-member parliament, resulting in a unitary ZANU-PF government weeks after his inauguration. The SADC declared the election free, and the AU followed suit.

Other problems with the elections included restrictions on non-ZANU-PF party candidates, domestic media bias in favor of ZANU-PF, denial of permission for some foreign journalists to cover the elections, the failure of the registrar general and the ZEC to provide for open inspection of voter rolls, the courts’ failure to settle electoral matters before the elections’ date, and numerous discrepancies with the voter register, such as irregular registration patterns between urban and rural areas, as well as questionably large numbers of voters older than 100 and very low numbers of youth voters.

The ZEC held numerous by-elections during the year. Most observers found polling days were peaceful and the ZEC administered them well. Numerous irregularities undermined the credibility of the elections, however, including efforts by some traditional leaders to coerce and intimidate their communities into voting for ZANU-PF candidates, sporadic violence and intimidation in the pre-election environment, media coverage skewed toward ZANU-PF, police presence inside polling stations, and allegations of vote buying.

Since the 2013 election, ZANU-PF has won all 34 House of Assembly by-elections. Twenty-seven vacancies arose due to expulsions of party members, and seven vacancies arose due to deaths of incumbents. In the Senate ZANU-PF replaced seven expelled party members and one deceased senator. ZANU-PF also won all local government by-elections in the same period. In September independent candidate for the Norton by-election Temba Mliswa accused the ZEC of failing in its constitutional mandate to provide for an even electoral environment. Mliswa reported police imposed unlawful and unfair conditions on opposition candidates’ campaigns but not on ZANU-PF candidates’ campaigns. On October 22, Mliswa won the Norton by-election by a significant margin.

Political Parties and Political Participation: Although the constitution allows for multiple parties, elements within ZANU-PF and the security forces intimidated and committed abuses against other parties and their supporters and obstructed their activities. In contravention of the law, active members of the police and army openly campaigned for and ran as ZANU-PF candidates in the elections. The government routinely interfered with MDC-T-led local governments. In Harare the local government minister blocked the hiring of James Mushore as the town clerk even though the city followed proper procedures to fill the position. The minister temporarily suspended Harare’s mayor for insisting that Mushore commence work as town clerk.

The constitution provides specific political rights for all citizens. Laws, however, are not fully consistent with the constitution and allow discrimination in voter registration to continue. Authorities treat citizens with dual citizenship claims as “aliens.” These citizens must overcome administrative obstacles in order to renounce their foreign citizenship, which is required before they may register to vote.

Participation of Women and Minorities: Women remained largely underrepresented in local and national politics, and men overwhelmingly held most senior positions in the public sector. Following the 2013 elections, women filled three of 24 cabinet minister positions in the cabinet, well below their 52-percent share of the population, as recorded in the 2012 census, and well below the equal representation required by the constitution. Women held four of 12 minister of state positions and six of 24 deputy minister positions. NGOs noted the cabinet minister positions occupied by women were less influential. Women made up nearly 48 percent of the Senate and 32 percent of the National Assembly. In accordance with the constitution, all 60 seats reserved for women in the National Assembly were filled by female members of parliament. At the local government level, women held approximately 17 percent of councilor positions nationwide. Men also dominated the judiciary; fewer than one-third of Supreme Court and High Court judges were women. Women were a minority among judicial officers, such as prosecutors, in lower courts.

The ZANU-PF congress allotted women one-third of party positions and reserved 50 positions for women on the party’s 180-member central committee, one of the party’s most powerful organizations. In 2015 the ZANU-PF Women’s League passed a resolution calling on the party to amend its constitution to accommodate the appointment of a female vice president, which ZANU-PF’s legal affairs department ignored. MDC-T President Morgan Tsvangirai reportedly appointed two additional male vice presidents to neutralize the influence of his longstanding female Vice President Thokozani Khupe. In April, Joice Mujuru formed the Zimbabwe People First political party, becoming the sole female leader of a mainstream opposition party.

NGOs noted that young women were mostly excluded from decision-making structures and processes in all political parties.

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