Tanzania’s opposition presidential candidate Edward Lowassa on Wednesday called for a total recount of Sunday’s election for the presidency, citing voting irregularities in Tanzania’s tightest elections in more than 50 years.
Earlier today, the vote in Tanzania’s semi-autonomous Zanzibar archipelago was annulled after the election commission there cited “gross violations”, meaning there will be a fresh ballot in the Zanzibar archipelago which is the stronghold of Tanzania’s opposition.
The Zanzibar vote was part of a national election to pick a new president and parliament for Tanzania. Tanzania’s National Electoral Commission (NEC) had planned to reveal the winner of the national presidential race on Thursday, but Lowassa called on NEC to cancel that announcement.
“We demand that NEC should do a verification of the results and recount the votes,” Lowassa said at a news conference in Tanzania’s commercial capital, Dar es Salaam, saying he wanted a recount of the presidential not parliamentary vote.
The Electoral Commission in mainland Tanzania has dismissed opposition allegations of rigging.
“Claims of vote rigging highly misleading,” the chairman of the National Electoral Commission, Damian Lubuva, said. “It is not true at all.”
Results from the presidential race began trickling in on Monday, showing the CCM candidate, John Magufuli, leading the former prime minister Lowassa.
An official from the opposition Civic United Front (CUF) said annulling the poll was a ploy to rerun the vote it had won. There was no immediate comment from CCM, but it has previously said it was on track for a slim win there. The ruling CCM party, has been in power since British colonial rule ended in 1961,
CCM said it had complaints about violations in at least four parliamentary constituencies where it had lost to the opposition and would to go court to contest the parliamentary outcome. The CCM also said the overall picture was that “elections were free and fair” and that voting reflected the will of people.
This election has been the most hotly contested in Tanzania’s history after the main opposition parties formed a coalition for the first time, fielding a single presidential candidate for Zanzibar and a single candidate for the united republic.
Chairman of the National Electoral Commission, Damian Lubava said the annulment in Zanzibar would not affect the Tanzania vote and the process would continue as planned.
Police fired teargas to disperse CUF supporters in Zanzibar after they gathered to celebrate what the opposition party said was its victory.
“It’s an attempt to try and disrupt the process and my feeling is that they just want to create chaos,” CUF spokesman Ismail Jussa said after the commission’s announcement.