Ruling CCM headed for victory in Tanzania polls

John Magufuli of the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party has opened a wide lead over his rival, Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo's (Chadema) Edward Lowassa in the country's presidential elections.

Judith Sargentini, the head of the European Union Electoral Observer Mission addresses the Press on the Tanzanian General Election at Serena Hotel in Dar es Salaam. She said there was inadequate transparency from the election administration. (PHOTO: PIUS CHERUIYOT/ STANDARD)

With just over 100 constituencies announced so far out of 265, Mr Magufuli was leading with slightly over two million votes, while Mr Lowassa had less than 1.5 million votes. Despite Magufuli's comfortable lead, the election has been touted as the closest in the country's 51-year history.

Although the announced results are about 25 per cent of the total expected results, the ruling party appears to have gained marginally even in areas considered to be opposition strongholds. Out of the 85 constituencies that had been declared by yesterday at 7pm, Magufuli was leading in over 70 of the constituencies spread across the country.

Among the areas that the ruling party has done well are constituencies in Tanga, Mbeya, Kilimanjaro and the country's Coast province.

Lowassa, according to the latest results is doing well in Arusha in the country's Northern region, where he is registered as a voter. He is in a close contest with Magufuli in provinces such Lindi, Mtwara and in Pemba islands.

In his hometown constituency of Monduli near Arusha, Lowassa garnered 49,675 votes against his opponent's 11,355. CCM is leading in more than three quarters of all the constituencies announced so far.

Before the Sunday poll, the opposition was expected to give the ruling party its stiffest scare yet, but political observers here say there is no strong indication so far that it will upset the ruling party's dominance.

 Holding breath

"It is possible that we are not seeing results from the opposition dominated areas, but they should get more worried that the little results we have seen from their strongholds are not as massive as they would have expected. It tells you that they would be holding their breath right now," said a Tanzanian journalist working for a foreign radio station.

The National Election Commission (NEC) has been struggling to fend off accusations that it has adopted a selective pattern in the announcement of the results, choosing to ignore results from areas where the opposition has allegedly carried the day.

NEC Chairman Damien Lubuva defended the commission saying: " The forms that we are receiving from the various polling stations are endorsed by the agents from the competing parties, and figures are not altered by the electoral commission. All that we are doing is nothing but transparency."

But on the streets, there were reports of riots by opposition supporters, even as Mr Lubuva defended NEC from accusations that it was favoring the ruling party. Police in riot gear kept guard on the streets of Dar es Salaam for the third day running.

Despite the early lead taken by CCM, the ruling party suffered several blows as some of its ministers lost their seats in the parliamentary elections.

Among ministers who lost their parliamentary seats were Omar Nundu, Cyril Chami, Steven Wasira, Christopher Chiza, Aggrey Mwanri, Stephen Kebwe, Anne Kilango, Vicent Nyerere, James Lembeli and Kisyeri Chambiri. The ministers were upset by contestants from the conglomeration of parties that make up the opposition.

The Standard
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