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Tanzania elects first albino lawmaker

Here, a group in neighbouring Burundi attend a trial of 11 people accused of killing albinos
Here, a group in neighbouring Burundi attend a trial of 11 people accused of killing albinos AFP/Esdras Ndikumana

Voters in Lindi Urban district, southeast Tanzania, elected the elected Salum Khalfani Bar'wani to Parliament Sunday, making him the country’s first ever elected albino lawmaker. He said Wednesday that his election was a victory for albinos, at least 40 of whom have been murdered in Tanzania in the past four years.


“My victory shows that people are tired of the killing of albinos in this area and across the country,” Bar’wani told RFI. “I believe this is the time to represent my fellow albinos, so that their voice can be heard.”

Bar'wani, of the opposition Civic United Front, beat the ruling party candidate, who had held the seat for 15 years.

Bar’wani said he won not just because he is albino, but because of what he was offering.

“I think the reasons why they elected me are because of how I spoke to them, and the promises I made during my campaign,” he said.

Albinos across Tanzania welcomed Bar’wani’s victory.

“It is good news that one of our members, one of our people, has been elected as a member of parliament,” Benedicti Mashaka of the Tanzania Albino Society told RFI.

He said he hoped this will send a clear message that albinos should not be stigmatised.

Albinos have a genetic condition which means they do not have any pigmentation in their skin, hair or eyes. Albinos have been discriminated against in many African countries, and in Tanzania many have been killed by witch doctors who believe that charms made from their body parts bring good luck.

Final results of the Presidential election are not expected before Friday, but incumbent Jakaya Kikwete has a strong lead, winning 121 of the 146 constituencies announced, out of a total of 239.

An opposition leader demanded Wednesday the electoral commission (NEC) stop announcing the results, which he said are erroneous.

"The number of votes in our favour differs from those announced by the National Electoral Commission," Wilbrod Slaa, the candidate of the CHADEMA, Democracy and Development Party, told the AFP news agency.

He said security agents had tampered with the results and the number of votes cast.

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