Tanzania awaits poll results following a large voter turnout in the most tightly contested race in the country’s history.
Polling centres opened at 7am Sunday and closed at 4pm but not without delays in voting materials, long queue’s and clerks reporting late in some stations. Despite these hitches Tanzanians cast their ballots peacefully and immediately left the polling centres – some to catch up on what is happening in other regions of the country.
The counting process began immediately after and is expected to close in two days time when tallying and announcements are anticipated to be complete in all the constituencies. So far 61 constituencies have announced results out of 264. The Electoral Commission anticipates to have at least announced half of the total constituencies by the end of the Tuesday.
The ruling party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi’s (CCM), John Pombe Magufuli is believed to be leading and analysts are already predicting a win for the ruling party.
The opposition is alleging that there is widespread vote rigging. The opposition presidential leader- Edward Lowassa- claims that delay in announcing results from some constituencies is a ploy aimed at favouring his rival candidate John Magufuli of CCM. Speaking with journalists he says he has been following how NEC are releasing results which seem to be favouring CCM’s candidate contrary to what is on the ground.
However, the Electoral Commission has been swift to counteract these claims.
The National Electoral Commission is the only body authorised to announce presidential results while election officials in the districts are mandated to announce parliamentary and civic results the body warns. Results are being received by the commission as they have been tallied in various constituencies.
”The election commission is not partisan. Its not favouring any party by announcing the results according to the presidential contenders . All results forms received from the various regions have been endorsed by different party agents who have been witnessing the counting process. The Commission has in no way altered the figures, they are absolutely transparent” says Damian Lubuva Chair of the Electoral body.
The Chair is also asking the media and the opposition to refrain from making statements that would allege the results being released by the commission are tampered with. The constitutional and legal mandates put in place will resolve disputed results he says.
Meanwhile there is unrest in the semi-autonomous Zanzibar Island. This is after the opposition’s Civic United Front (CUF) leader- Seif Shariff Hamad- declared himself winner, against CCM’s Ali Mohammed Shein, disregarding the official announcement by the Zanzibar Electoral Commission.
According to AFP, police have been forced to deploy tear gas canisters to disperse crowds. The situation remains tense in Zanzibar with results indicating CCM and CUF were neck and neck since the vote on Sunday.
The latest from the semi-autonomous state of Zanzibar is that the military has surrounded the the Zanzibar Electoral Commission offices moving the police out of the centre and locking down the building. Everyone inside the Commission’s building is locked in, this includes journalists and members of the Commission. No one is being allowed to enter the building. Zanzibar remains a ghost town, towns are deserted, and business remain closed.
Update: As of Wednesday AM vote counting continues, while the opposition leader Edward Lowassa has called for the election results to be nullified due to voting irregularities.
“We want the National Electoral Commission (NEC) to immediately halt the announcement of results of the presidential election,” Lowassa, who leads the Ukawa opposition coalition, told a news conference in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam.
“We demand that NEC should do a verification of the results and recount the votes,” he said.
The NEC had said it would announce the winner of the vote on Thursday, with preliminary results showing John Magufuli, candidate for the ruling CCM party, ahead of Lowassa.
Words by Maren Okoth
Picture by flowcomm