Tanzanians elect first albino to parliament

Albino people in a safe haven in Tanzania, 01/09 Albinos in Tanzania have become targets for body-snatchers seeking to sell them to witch doctors

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An albino has been elected as an MP in Tanzania for the first time.

"This win is a victory not only for me but also for all the albinos in this country," Salum Khalfani Bar'wani, from the opposition Cuf party, told the BBC.

Albinos have suffered widespread persecution in Tanzania, where witch doctors say magic potions made with albino body parts can bring good luck.

The government has been campaigning against the discrimination, and an albino MP was appointed two years ago.

But Al-Shymaa Kway-Geer was nominated by the president who is able to appoint 10 unelected members of parliament.

Over the past few years dozens of albinos have been killed in Tanzania, targets of body-snatchers, and the killings have spread to neighbouring Burundi.

In August a court in Tanzania sentenced a Kenyan to 17 years in jail on charges of trying to sell an albino person.

'Joy'

Start Quote

I am so touched that this is the first time in the electoral history of this country for an albino to be elected by the people ”

End Quote Salum Khalfani Bar'wani

Mr Bar'wani said he was grateful to the constituents in Lindi Urban, in the remote south-east of the country, for electing him.

"My joy has no end," he told the BBC Swahili Service.

"The people of Lindi have used their wisdom and have appreciated clearly that albinos are capable.

"I am so touched that this is the first time in the electoral history of this country for an albino to be elected by the people in a popular contest to be their representative in parliament - and not through sympathy votes or decisions."

He said his success also showed people in Lindi where tired of the leadership of the ruling CCM party.

So far five cabinet ministers from the ruling party have lost their seats to the opposition in the elections.

Incumbent President Jakaya Kikwete is expected to win the presidential poll, although he faces a strong challenge from former priest Willibrod Slaa and university professor Ibrahim Lipumba, among six opposition candidates.

On Monday, opposition supporters held protests in several parts of the country at the slow pace of announcing the result of Sunday's general election.

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