Vote counting completed in Tanzanian polls

Tanzania awaited poll results on Monday with federal President Jakaya Kikwete likely to clinch re-election on the mainland and the ruling party candidate leading in early results in Zanzibar.

“Counting has been concluded in all the constituencies,” electoral commission chief for mainland Tanzania Lewis Makame told AFP on Monday.

The commission started announcing provisional results on Monday afternoon, but with 239 constituencies in the country the operation was expected to drag on well into the night.

“Overall the voting has gone well. It was peaceful with no major incidents,” Makame said.

On the semi-autonomous island of Zanzibar, where voting also passed off peacefully, Ali Mohamed Shein of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM or Revolution Party) was in the lead, according to results from 21 constituencies out of 50.

Shein’s lead did cause tension, with some 500 youths from the opposition Civic United Front (CUF) gathering around the headquarters of the electoral commission. Some of them were singing and chanting “Why the delay?” and “You are tampering with results”.

Riot police were deployed and brought in a water cannon but had not used it, while most businesses close by remained open.

Zanzibar, which has witnessed bloody poll violence in the past, put in place a power-sharing agreement earlier this year whereby the party that produced the poll runner-up also received government positions.

Zanzibar is expected to be a closer contest than the mainland, between Shein and the CUF’s Seif Sharif Hamad.

Paul East, the head of the Commonwealth Observer Team, said vote counting on the mainland had been done “according to the regulations”.

Early returns released on Monday were still too partial to show who between Kikwete and his two top opponents, Wilbrod Slaa of the Chama Cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema) party and Ibrahim Lipumba of the CUF, had a clear lead.

The election campigns on the mainland were the most competitive since the vast east African country returned to multi-party politics in 1992.

Kikwete, a 60-year-old former foreign minister, said as he cast his ballot in his home village of Msoga, north of Dar es Salaam, that his CCM party would win with a landslide.

Analysts also expected Kikwete to win, but by a smaller margin than the 80 percent he clocked up in 2005.

“Despite a few reported glitches… once again, Tanzanians have demonstrated to the world their impeccable credentials for peace and tranquility,” said the state-owned Daily News newspaper.

Unlike most of its neighbours Tanzania has enjoyed political stability since independence in 1961.—Sapa-AFP


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