After a contested election victory that leading opposition candidate described as a travesty and the United States said was marred by widespread irregularities, Tanzania’s President John Pombe Magufuli has vowed to bury the hatchet and work with his rivals for the good of the country.
The once peaceful country that is among a handful in the continent never to have experienced a civil war or military takeover was plunged into chaos, following a contested election in which President Magufuli was unsurprisingly declared the winner.
His leading opponent Tundu Lissu described the elections as a “travesty” and urged his supporters “to flood the streets in mass protests.”
Security forces in Tanzania have clamped down hard on political dissent with scores killed, and a nationwide internet ban imposed on Election Day. Tundu Lissu himself spent the last three years in self-imposed exile after he survived an assassination attempt.
“I will be the servant of all Tanzanians. I would like to thank my fellow presidential contestants for participating,” Magufuli said at a function in the capital Dodoma where he formally accepted the results.
Tanzania’s electoral body announced on Friday, Magufuli had secured 84% of the vote, with his leading opponent Tundu Lissu garnering just 13%.
“I promise to work with you to ensure we are pushing for the national development. Development is non-partisan … politics is not a war, politics is not a conflict, we are all Tanzanians.”
President Magufuli’s election victory ensures Tanzania remains a de facto one party state, with Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) ruling the country since its independence in 1961.
Lissu’s CHADEMA and another opposition party ACT-Wazalendo have however demanded a fresh poll be held.
Meanwhile, the United States has said it was concerned about reports showing “systematic interference in the democratic process” during the election.
In a statement, the U.S. Embassy said, “The vote was marred by allegations of irregularities, including the use of force against unarmed civilians, pre-ticking of ballots, the detention of opposition officials and restrictions on political party agents accessing polling stations,”
Magufuli has been praised for his economic policies https://mansamedia.africa/news/seeking-a-second-term-magufulinomics-have-worked-in-tanzania-but-democracy-hasnt/ though critics accuse his government of intolerance and growing authoritarianism that has included closure of some media outlets, preventing opposition rallies and crackdown on civil society groups.
The government has always denied these accusations.