Sunday, October 25, 2015

Tanzanians are voting in presidential and general elections in what is expected to be the tightest race in the history of east Africa’s most populous country.
Long lines of voters began gathering hours before dawn on Sunday in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s biggest city, with centres opening at 7am local time (0400 GMT) and queues moving quickly.
The presidential vote sees John Magufuli, of the long-ruling Revolution party (CCM), the narrow favourite, take on the former prime minister, Edward Lowassa, a CCM stalwart who recently defected to the opposition Democracy and Progress party (Chadema).
Both men have spent the past two months flying across the country, wooing voters and holding rallies attended by thousands of flag-waving supporters.
Analysts have warned that the unusually tight race could lead to tensions, with the opposition providing the first credible challenge to the CCM since the introduction of multiparty democratic elections in 1995.
In one of his final speeches of this campaign, Magufuli said: “I want to lead the country to development and good welfare. Everyone deserves a better life, irrespective of his or her political inclination.”
Many believe Magufuli, the current minister of works, for which he has earned the nickname the bulldozer, will face a tough challenge from Lowassa.
Lowassa was the prime minister from 2005 until his resignation in 2008 over corruption allegations, which he denies. He had been one of the CCM’s strongest supporters for years, but is now calling for an end to the party’s rule.
“This regime has outlived its usefulness,” Lowassa said at his final rally late on Saturday, repeating his calls to “kick CCM out of office, the regime that has failed the nation for all the 54 years it has been in office”.
The outgoing president, Jakaya Kikwete, who is unable to run for a third term in office under the constitution, has ordered the police to improve security to ensure calm.Lowassa, who cast his vote in Ngarash, in the northern Arusha district, said he was confident of winning as he called on people to vote peacefully.
Kikwete made a rare direct attack on Lowassa – a longtime former colleague – at a final rally for the CCM, describing him as “corrupt and greedy” and accusing him of illegally seizing land as lands minister.
Pius Msekwa, a former CCM vice-chairman and the vice-chancellor of the University of Dar es Salaam, said: “This is going to be the toughest but most exciting election in the country’s history.”
Polls close at 4pm (1300 GMT) and election officials say they expect the presidential election results within three days.
Goodluck Jonathan, the former Nigerian president and head of a team of Commonwealth election observers, told the candidates: “If you lose, accept defeat.”
Voters are also casting ballots in parliamentary and local polls on Sunday, including on the semi-autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar, which is also holding presidential elections.
Magufuli and Lowassa have made repeated calls for the preservation of peace and national unity in speeches denouncing tribalism, religious violence and corruption.
On Zanzibar, campaigning has been largely peaceful, but residents have stockpiled food and water, fearful of possible unrest after the polls. Voter Rahma Ahmed said: “I am happy, as the mood of the voting seems good – and the exercise started on time.”
The leading candidates in the Zanzibar election are the current president, Ali Mohamed Shein, of the ruling CCM, and the vice-president, Seif Sharif Hamad, from the opposition Civic United Front (CUF), who are sharing power in a unity government.
After casting his ballot at a primary school in Bungi, about 15 miles (24km) south of Zanzibar City, Shein said: “I am confident of victory, and ready to serve Zanzibaris for the second term.”
SOURCE;the guardian


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