Tanzania: Magufuli wins re-election amid claims of fraud

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Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli casts his ballot in Dodoma, Tanzania, October 28, 2020; Courtesy Photo

Tanzanian President John Magufuli has won a resounding election victory with 84 percent of the votes in a poll his main rival said was riddled with irregularities such as ballot box stuffing.

Magufuli received 12.5m votes in Wednesday’s presidential ballot, while his main challenger, Tundu Lissu of the Chadema party, received 1.9m votes, the commission said.

Magufuli has been seeking a second five-year term and promised voters that he would boost the economy by completing ambitious infrastructure projects started in his first term.

Voter turnout was 50.7 percent from more than 29 million voters, with over 260,000 votes declared invalid.

The resounding victory in Wednesday’s vote will further cement the power of a party that has been in power since independence in 1961 but stands accused of a slide into autocracy under Magufuli.

Lissu previously said that he will not accept the election results.

Lissu, who returned to Tanzania in July after three years abroad recovering from 16 bullet wounds sustained in an assassination attempt, on Thursday declared that the results coming in were “illegitimate.”

He urged his supporters to demonstrate peacefully, while asking the international community not to recognise the outcome.

“Whatever happened yesterday was not an election, and thus we do not recognise it. We do not accept the result,” Lissu told reporters, saying opposition election monitors had been barred from entering polling stations and faced other interference.

“What is being presented to the world is a complete fraud. It is not an election.”

The US assistant secretary of state for African Affairs, Tibor Nagy, said on Friday: “We remain deeply concerned about reports of systematic interference in the democratic process.”

Magufuli’s CCM party, a version of which has held power in Tanzania since independence from Britain in 1961, had already retained power in the semi-autonomous Indian Ocean archipelago of Zanzibar, with 76% of the vote.

Dozens of opposition party officials and members were arrested in Zanzibar on Thursday and at least one was in hospital with severe injuries after allegations he was beaten by the police. The police have not commented on the incident.

The US embassy in the east African country said on Thursday there had been “credible allegations of significant election-related fraud and intimidation” in Wednesday’s vote for a president and lawmakers.

The election was marred by allegations of arrests among candidates and protesters, restrictions on the ability of political parties’ agents to access polling stations, multiple voting, pre-ticking of ballots and widespread blocking of social media, the US embassy said.

Officials at the electoral commission were not immediately available for comment. On Wednesday, the commission denied allegations of fake ballots, saying they were unofficial and unsubstantiated.

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