Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete has won re-election for a second term, in a poll marked by low turnout and opposition accusations of fraud.
In results that were announced on Friday — five days after voters cast their ballots — CCM’s President Kikwete was declared the winner with 5,276,827 votes, representing 61.17 per cent of all votes cast.
Announcing the results at the Karimjee Hall grounds in Dar es Salaam, the chairman of the National Electoral Commission, Mr Justice Lewis Makame, said that Chadema’s Dr Willibrod Slaa emerged second with 2,271,941 votes, representing 26.34 per cent of the total votes.
The Civic United Front’s (CUF) Prof Ibrahim Lipumba garnered 695,667 votes or 8.06 per cent of the ballot. The presidential candidates and other invited guests started arriving at the grounds situated a stone’s throw from State House at 2.44pm.
However, Dr Slaa, who has contested the results alleging that it was rigged, snubbed the ceremony. But it was not until 4.01pm when Mr Justice Makame started announcing the results. “I now declare Jakaya Kikwete to have been elected president of the United Republic of Tanzania,” the electoral commission boss said.
Judge Makame said that Mr Peter Kuga Mziray of the African Progressive Party of Tanzania got 96,933 votes, while Mr Hashim Rungwe of the National Convention for Construction and Reform garnered 26,388 votes.
Mr Muttamwega Bhatt Mgayhwa of Tanzania Labour Party managed 17,482 votes with Fahmi Nassoro Dovutwa of United People’s Democratic Party getting 13,176 votes. President Kikwete’s, closest rival, Dr Slaa, had snubbed the much-delayed announcement of the results after alleging the ballot was rigged.
Mr Justice Makame said that only 42 per cent of the close to 20 million registered voters turned out on October 31 for the east African country’s fourth multi-party General Election. “The turnout was very low, unacceptably low,” said CUF’s Dr Lipumba after his dismal performance.
President Kikwete, who enjoys a positive image abroad and is credited with steering his country’s economy to one of Africa’s highest growth rates, had been predicted to take exactly 61 per cent in a pre-election opinion poll. While the margin with his challengers remains huge, the results of Sunday’s polls mark a slump from the 80 per cent he garnered in 2005 and reveal a re-invigorated opposition.
Although full legislative results were not yet available, Kikwete’s Chama Cha Mapinduzi looked certain to retain control of parliament, but will face a larger opposition than before. As President Kikwete was declared the winner and his rivals officially conceded, the ceremony in the Tanzanian capital was marked by the absence of Dr Slaa, who had led a feisty campaign for the Chadema party.
On Wednesday, Dr Slaa demanded that the electoral commission stop announcing the presidential results, saying they were riddled with errors, and requested a recount. “The number of votes in our favour differs from those announced by the National Electoral Commission,” Dr Slaa said.
The electoral body admitted to some mistakes during the tense five-day tallying process but went ahead with Friday’s announcement. Several foreign election monitoring groups also reported irregularities in the voting, which was nonetheless conducted peacefully despite a few scuffles during the counting process.
Voters in Tanzania’s semi-autonomous Zanzibar archipelago also went to the polls on Sunday to elect a president, lawmakers and local councillors. Electoral authorities there announced the results a day later, declaring the ruling party candidate Ali Mohamed Shein the winner of a tight race with veteran opposition politician Seif Sharif Hamad.
Shein was sworn in on Thursday and will work with Hamad as his first vice-president, inaugurating a new power-sharing deal enshrined in a constitutional amendment adopted in July to end perennial election violence. Tanzania is among the world’s poorest nations and its 43 million citizens rely mainly on subsistence agriculture.
Additional reporting by AFP