Tanzania opposition rejects presidential election result, wants fresh vote

Saturday, 31 October 2020

Tanzania’s two leading opposition parties said on Saturday they would not recognise the results of a presidential election that handed incumbent John Magufuli a second five-year term, reports Reuters.

On Friday, Tanzania’s National Electoral Commission declared Magufuli the winner of Wednesday’s poll, with 84 per cent of the vote against 13 per cent for his opponent, Tundu Lissu of the Chadema party.

“We are calling on the international community and bodies not to recognise what was referred to as a general election, and we call on them to take appropriate action,” Chadema chairman Freeman Mbowe said in comments posted on the party’s Twitter account.

“We demand fresh elections as soon as possible.”

Mbowe, who led the opposition in parliament, urged opposition supporters to demonstrate on Monday against the handling of the election, which Lissu has called a “travesty”.

Zitto Kabwe, a leader of ACT-Wazalendo, along with Mbowe, was among dozens of opposition candidates who lost their seats in parliament to the ruling CCM party. ACT-Wazalendo on Saturday joined the calls for protests against the result.

In his bid for a second term, Magufuli promised to boost the economy by completing infrastructure projects started in his first term, such as a hydro-electric dam, a railway line and new planes for the national carrier.

But the opposition and rights groups have complained that his administration has cracked down on critical voices, closing down media outlets and preventing opposition rallies.

The main challenger, Lissu, was shot 16 times in 2017 in what remains an unsolved case.

The government has denied stifling dissent.

The United States has said it was concerned about “reports of systematic interference in the democratic process” during the election.

The vote was marred by allegations of irregularities, including the use of force against unarmed civilians, pre-ticking of ballots, the detention of opposition officials and restrictions on political party agents accessing polling stations, the US Embassy said.

But, in a preliminary statement, the East African Community’s Election Observer Mission said that the electoral commission had “organised the elections in a professional manner”.

Government spokesman Hassan Abbasi could not be reached when Reuters sought comment on Saturday.

On Wednesday, the electoral commission denied allegations of fake ballots, saying they were unsubstantiated.

CCM won more than 200 of the 264 constituencies that were up for a vote on Wednesday, according to the privately-owned Mwananchi newspaper.