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John Magufuli is Tanzania’s new president. And results in Zanzibar are annulled
The results of the elections held on the 25th of October are out. John Magufuli is the new president of Tanzania, whilst Zanzibar is to vote again.
Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), in power for over fifty years, won the elections and its candidate John Magufuli is the new president of Tanzania with 68% of votes. The National Electoral Commission made the announcement on the 29th of October. The elections to decide the new head of state, as well as members of parliament and local government have been the most contested since independence from the British in 1961. They took place on the 25th of October in East Africa’s most populous country.
The newly elected leader’s opponent Edward Lowassa formed the Ukawa coalition, which brings together four opposition groups, after the CCM, his former party, rejected him as presidential candidate. After Magufuli’s victory was announced he called for a recount of the votes citing irregularities that the CCM and electoral commission deny.
Chaos reigns as far as the results in the semi-autonomous Zanzibar archipelago are concerned. The results of the elections were annulled because of “gross violations” cited by the election commission, and another vote will be held. According to a member of the opposition Civic United Front (CUF) this is a move to strip the party of its victory. The United States released a statement saying it is “gravely alarmed” by the nullification of the results, given also that the day of voting went by free of episodes of violence. Elections in Zanzibar, where opposition to the ruling CCM is strong, have turned violent in the past.
Multiparty democratic elections have existed in Tanzania since 1995. The 2015 election was marked by a very high turnout, signalling the importance of such a landmark vote: never before had the leadership of the CCM, in power virtually since independence, been so potentially threatened.
President Jakaya Kikwete is the outgoing leader after having completed the maximum of two consecutive terms the constitution allows. His tenure was marked by a high-level corruption scandal in the energy sector. This prompted a cut of around half a billion dollars in aid to Tanzania, which is considered one of Africa’s most peaceful countries, though two thirds of its fifty million people live in poverty.
Both the CCM and Ukawa coalition focused their campaigns on the fight against poverty and youth unemployment, and the continuation of natural gas projects. Corruption was also a hot topic. The newly declared president Magufuli is perceived as being largely untainted by corruption and during his campaign he promised tough measures such as setting up a special anti-corruption court. Lowassa, instead, served as Prime Minister from 2005 to 2008 but resigned due to a corruption scandal, though he was never accused and denies involvement.
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