DAR ES SALAAM, (CAJ News) – TANZANIA, hailed as one of the continent’s most stable countries, appears headed for an unprecedented political crisis emanating from the most tightly contested elections in the country.
At the time of going to press results of the elections to determine the country’s fifth president of the East African nation had not been announced but opposition candidate and former Prime Minister, Edward Lowassa, fired warning shots he would dispute the outcome alleging fraud and vote rigging had marred the election that had the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi’s (CCM) John Magufuli on course for victory.
A former influential member of the party, who quit after he was sidelined ahead of Magufuli, Lowassa had mounted a strong challenge leading the coalition Chama Cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (CHADEMA).
With results from 133 of 264 constituencies released by the National Election Commission (NEC) by the time of going to press, Magufuli had 56,51 percent of the vote, compared with 41,67 Lowassa amassed.
“We want the NEC to immediately halt the announcement of results of the presidential election. We demand that NEC should do a verification of the results and recount the votes,” Lowassa told a news conference in the main
city of Dar-es-Salaam on Wednesday.
In a related development, his Umoja wa Katiba ya Wananchi (UKAWA) party, which is part of the four-party coalition, had demanded that since elections were nullified in the semi-autonomous region of Zanzibar, it
should be nullified on the mainland as well.
Chaos characterised the poll in Zanzibar where results where results were annulled. The semi-autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar elects its own President and members to its sub-national legislature.
Electoral authorities reported youths invaded polling stations with view of causing chaos, some party agents were thrown out of polling stations, votes were tampered with, and electoral commissioners exchanged blows
because of differences among themselves, among other disturbances.
It was the first time in the history of Zanzibar that an election has been scrapped-sparking a possible crisis.
However, the ruling party dismissed the allegations of electoral fraud as “baseless”, “unfounded” and “unsubstantiated” the winning candidate NEC declared the winner yesterday (Thursday) must be pronounced the President.
Earlier on Wednesday, CCM Campaign Director, January Makamba, said his party was on firm pole position with almost half of the elections being counted.
He however announced the party would issue a statement on Thursday after the official announcement, arguing making such statements before then would be “undermining the authority of NEC” Peace and calm had preceded
the poll which international observers monitored and endorsed.
The African Union, which also monitored the elections in Ivory Coast on the same day, said the elections were held in a “serene” and “peaceful” atmosphere.
“As the votes are being counted, the AU Commission Chairperson (Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma), calls on all Ivoirian and Tanzanian stakeholders to respect the voice of the electorate, to remain calm, with the same serenity they demonstrated on the day of the voting. She urges all political actors to always put the interest of their country above all other interests.
“The AU Commission Chairperson also reiterates the need for stakeholders in Côte d’Ivoire and Tanzania to resort to officially recognised peaceful disputes resolution mechanism, should there be any election-related disputes,” the AU said as vote counting stated on Tuesday.
The European Union also approved the election as “generally well conducted and in a largely calm atmosphere.”
“At this stage, the EU expects all political parties and electoral stakeholders to act in order to preserve peace and order in the country.
“The EU Election Observation Mission will remain in country until the completion of the electoral process and issue a final report with recommendations within two months,” the bloc said in a statement on the eve of the release of the results.
Unlike most of its neighbours Tanzania, regarded a model of political and economic stability in the continent, has enjoyed relative political stability since attaining independence from Britain in 1961.
– CAJ News