On Sunday, Tanzanians went to the ballot in one of the most closely contested Presidential elections in the East African nation pitting the ruling party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), and a unified opposition under the Chadema party.
This was the fifth Presidential election since multiparty system was introduced in the former largely socialist country.
The ruling CCM government fronted former minister of works John Magufuli to fight it out with former Prime Minister Edward Lowassa.
While the vote was largely peaceful, it did not lacked its fare share of squabbles.
As in previous four elections, CCM, which has been in power for 54 years (since independence), took an early lead as the election tally trickled in on Tuesday, but several key cabinet ministers running on the ruling party ticket lost their seats in the constituencies.
Judge Damian Lubuva, chair of the Tanzanian electoral commission, expressed confidence in the voting process and saying that despite a few problems at a few polling station, the event was largely free and fair.
In semi-autonomous Zanzibar, a popular tourist destination where elections have always turned violent, vote tallying was cancelled after the main opposition candidate for the post of Zanzibar president, Maalim Seif Hamad, declared himself a winner.
Result from majority of the country’s 264 constituencies showed that CCM’s presidential candidate Magufuli, 54, was headed for a clear win against his rival Lowassa, 63.
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By early Thursday morning, the electoral commission showed that Magufuli had garnered 6,180,448 votes against Lowassa’s 4,254,492 votes, a difference analysts told The Standard was too huge for the opposition candidate to surmount.
Results from 68 constituencies were yet to be received, but they were not expected to change the final outcome of the vote.
Lowassa called for the whole election to be nullified on ground that the electoral body had favored Magufuli, Daily Nation reported.
“In different areas where the results have been announced, what has been reported as presidential election results does not reflect people’s will,” he said.
“We want the commission to immediately stop the announcement of the results and restart the process to verify the results using the forms that were signed by party agents and election officers,” he added.
Observers from the European Union and local civic organizations also raised doubt over the transparency of the voting process.
“In the undertaking of the different stages of the electoral process, the NEC and ZEC did not provide for full transparency regarding their decision making processes and stakeholders access to scrutinize the commission’s activities was not always granted,” the observers said at a press conference at Serena hotel, Dar es Salaam.