Tanzania votes today: What we know so far

A section of elders attends President John Magufuli's campaign meeting in Dodoma. [AP]

Tanzania headed to the polls on Wednesday for presidential and parliamentary elections with millions of voters filing polling stations in the wee hours.

Lines were witnessed at several polling stations across the country, as some citizens took to social media to show that they had already voted as early as 9am.

KTN News reported that security had been beefed up following unrest in Zanzibar yesterday.

Voting will be closed at 4pm local time.

At the time of publishing, Standard Digital established that both President John Pombe Magufuli and Opposition leader Tundu Lissu had already cast their votes, but Lissu claimed that his agents were blocked from accessing the polling stations.

Tanzania President John Magufuli casts his vote. [Courtesy]

Last week, The Tanzania National Electoral Commission (NEC) said it would allow alternative Identity Cards (IDs) to be used to vote- to assist those who lost their voters cards.

On Friday, The Tanzania Elections Watch expressed their concerns in the manner in which the government was handling campaigns in the period leading up to the polls.

Speaking at a press briefing, Zein Abubakar, a panellist with Tanzania Elections Watch said: "There have been restrictions concerning the ability of independent observer missions to carry out their work in Tanzania, including the disqualification of very credible institutions like the Catholic church."

 "We are hopeful that the outcome will reflect the will of the people," he added.

About 29 million Tanzanians are expected to vote today, as the world watches the big boys race pitting opposition’s Tundu Lissu against President John Magufuli.

There are at least 15 candidates running for the country's top seat.

Magufuli (alias the "bulldozer") who is banking on his ambitious programme of infrastructure development to secure a second term has called for a peaceful and calm vote.

"For those who qualify, vote and go home. Let the electoral body do its work. Peace is very important and I pray it dominates the polls," he said yesterday.

Yesterday, Chama Cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema) leader Tundu Lissu alleged there were plans to rig Wednesday's vote.

Lissu, who returned to the country in July, told the Standard Digital that the government had activated plans to use state security agencies to rig the elections in favour of President John Magufuli of the ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM).

“Tomorrow’s polls are heavily rigged. The entire government system is heavily involved in the rigging. Those involved are local and regional administration, police and intelligence agencies and even the military,” he said.

Magufuli, whose party CCM has ruled since independence in 1961, is seeking a second term in office.

The vote comes against a backdrop of restricted internet access, banned campaigns, opposition arrests and killings and limited media coverage.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights condemned the arrests against citizens and politicians at the height of the campaigns.

“We have been following with concern the shrinking of democratic space in Tanzania, with worrying reports of intimidation, harassment, arbitrary arrests and physical attacks against political opponents, journalists, women rights defenders and other activists,” it said in a statement.

This story is being updated by the hour...


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