(Bloomberg) -- At least 10 Tanzanian opposition parties petitioned the High Court to block lawmakers from debating controversial amendments to the Political Parties Law they say will undermine democracy if passed.

The changes will enable the Registrar of Political Parties to halt government grants to parties for up to six months and the authority to deregister them and supervise their internal affairs.

“The proposed amendments to the law are intended to criminalize activities of political parties and give the registrar of political parties unmerited powers to supervise the activities of political parties,” according to a joint statement.

The bill introduced in parliament for the first reading in late November is scheduled for a second reading this month. If allowed to proceed, the parliament controlled by the ruling Chama Cha Mapenduzi party is likely to adopt the amendments, the parties said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ken Karuri in Dar es Salaam at kkaruri@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Paul Richardson at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net, Helen Nyambura

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