With results in the Tanzanian national presidential race due on Thursday 29 October, doubt has been cast over the whole election after the semi-autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar had its polls annulled on 28 October.
The Zanzibar electoral commission cited “violations of electoral law” in its decision and ordered a rerun of elections that also saw 500 000 registered voters cast their ballots for the national president of Tanzania.
AFP quoted Zanzibar ZEC chairman Jecha Salim Jecha as saying the election had not been fair and breached certain electoral laws exemplified by youths invading polling stations, vote tampering, and electoral commissioners exchanging blows.
Despite an anticipated delay in releasing Tanzania’s national election results, counting continued for a third day on Wednesday, with the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party presidential hopeful John Magufuli in the lead in what is deemed Tanzania’s tightest election ever.
Preliminary results announced by the National Election Commission (NEC) late on 27 October gave Magufuli 56.51% of votes and his nearest rival, Edward Lowassa of the opposition Chadema party, 41.67%, in what is the ruling party’s party greatest challenge to its tenure in decades.
The results, from 133 of 264 constituencies, put the CCM ahead in the presidential race but several key ministers have lost their seats. Those ousted include the ministers for agriculture, information and investment, as well as the mayor of Dar es Salaam, the country’s economic hub.
The turmoil of the annulled Zanzibar polls will, however, up tensions and already this week Zanzibar police have fired tear gas to disperse crowds and foreign embassies have issued travel alerts. On 27 October security forces were protecting the island’s main tallying and results centre in the capital and the next day the streets remained fairly empty with shops closed and people reportedly fearful of going out.
Fuelling fears of rising tension, subsequent reports noted that Lowassa on 28 October called for the nullification of Tanzania’s general elections. He lambasted the National Electoral Commission for announcing partial results that he alleged did not reflect the will of the people and demanded that it stop further announcements and restart the results verification process .
Meanwhile, in other election news, President Alassane Ouattara has been re-elected to a second term as leader of the Ivory Coast, in the first peaceful presidential election there in over two decades. The Independent Electoral Commission declared him the winner on 28 October with 83.7% of the 3.1 million votes counted with voter turnout at around 54%.
Faith in Ouattara is attributed to his strong management style and the country’s economic recovery reflected in growth rates of over 8%. Analysts predict his biggest challenge will be to sustain this growth, and spread it evenly across all regions, as he tries to reconcile this still-divided nation. The embattled country will be grateful for the peaceful outcome after the years of civil war and bloody violence that followed then president Laurent Gbagbo’s refusal to step down in 2011.