Tanzania’s ruling party looks set for poll win

Tanzania’s ruling party looks set for the poll win, despite a challenge to its five decades in power from former Prime Minister Edward Lowassa, who has voiced concerns the poll may not be free or fair.

DAR ES SALAAM, TANZANIA (OCTOBER 26, 2015) (REUTERS) – Tanzania’s ruling party looked set to win presidential and parliamentary elections held on Sunday (October 25) despite a challenge to its five decades in power from former Prime Minister Edward Lowassa, who has voiced concerns the poll may not be free or fair.

Late on Sunday Chadema party, part of the opposition coalition led by Lowassa, said police raided its vote-tallying centre in Tanzania’s commercial capital Dar es Salaam and arrested opposition officials.

Any dispute in the outcome of the election – billed as the tightest race in Tanzania’s post-independence history – could raise tensions in a nation which has been relatively stable since British rule ended in 1961.

Most newspaper headlines claimed the vote was peaceful and calm while others claimed that opposition leader had killed the ruling party in the polls.

“I don’t know if the electoral commission will do justice because this country as it is, oppresses its own citizens, leaders consider themselves witty and view the citizens as brainless. If the commission’s chairman is appointed by the president, then he will follow the wishes of the president and the president cannot allow for his chosen candidate to lose. He will force the commission’s chairman to announce victory of his chosen candidate. If that false announcement is made, things will head south,” said a resident of Dar es Salaam Andrea Manyama the morning after election.

Business was back to normal in most Dar es Salaam streets with residents going about with their normal activities.

Other residents complained of holding a valid voters card but their names were missing in the register. They hope the outcome will not stain the country’s reputation.

“The citizens have woken up early and cast their vote and used their own strength to register themselves. There have been some instances of people not being able to vote because their names do not appear on the list even though they have valid voting cards. We are expecting that the electoral commission will make a decision that will navigate this country in the safe direction. If not, we can expect bad events that can stain the reputation of our country,” said another Dar es Salaam resident Rashid Abdalla.

Some officials and analysts have voiced particular concern about rising tensions in the semi-autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar, where the opposition had accused the government of intimidation ahead of the polls.

But voting was broadly peaceful across the vast East African nation of 47 million people, with a high turnout in many urban areas leading to delays.

Opinion polls and analysts have forecast a presidential victory for John Magufuli, the ruling CCM party’s candidate. But many expect CCM’s parliamentary majority to dwindle after the opposition united behind a single candidate for the first time.

Some 22.75 million people had registered to vote, with about 57 percent aged 35 or younger.