Tanzania’s ruling party candidate has been declared the winner of a controversial presidential election marred by claims of vote rigging and fears of violence. John Magufuli, nicknamed “the bulldozer” for his track record as works minister, won 58.46% of the vote, compared with 39.97% for his main rival, Edward Lowassa. “I duly declare John Pombe Magufuli to have been duly elected president of the United Republic of Tanzania,” the head of the electoral commission, Damian Lubuva, said on Thursday. Lowassa has refused to recognise the result, alleging that the electronic system used to count the votes had been manipulated. “We refuse to accept this attempt to rob the citizens of Tanzania of their democratic rights, which is being done by the national electoral commission by announcing results which are not the actual results.
Main opposition candidate Edward Lowassa has rejected the results of Tanzania’s presidential election, citing alleged fraud. Lowassa told reporters Wednesday in Dar es Salaam that results from the opposition coalition’s tallying unit showed the opposition leading the vote count before police raided the unit Monday. The opposition Chadema party, part of the coalition, said police detained 40 of its volunteers who were tallying results. The police commissioner said the arrests were based on “violations of electoral procedures.” There was no immediate comment from the ruling CCM party.
Tanzania’s main opposition party said on Tuesday it did not recognize results announced so far from a weekend presidential and parliamentary election due to “widespread rigging”, after a broadly peaceful vote that the ruling party said it won. Tanzania has been one of Africa’s most politically stable nations, ruled for half a century by the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party despite the CCM president being changed often. But Sunday’s vote was the most hotly contested in CCM’s history. The opposition has often complained about abuses in past votes, but this challenge carries more weight because Chadema and other major opposition parties have united in a coalition for the first time, fielding a single presidential candidate. Full and final results are not expected until Thursday.
The police fired tear gas and opposition leaders said dozens of supporters were arrested Monday in Tanzania as votes were slowly tabulated from the presidential election over the weekend. Many observers, foreign and domestic alike, said this election was going to be the tightest and most turbulent in Tanzania’s history. The nation holds a special place in Africa as one of the most peaceful on the continent. But this time, a well-financed opposition coalition is challenging the governing party’s decades-long lock on power, and some Tanzanians have been fearful about the result. On Monday evening, the governing party’s candidate, John Magufuli, a chemist and minister of public works, was leading Edward Lowassa, the most popular opposition figure, by a ratio of nearly two to one, according to preliminary results from a small number of constituencies.