EAC mission hails peaceful election as Magufuli wins Tanzanian vote by 84%

John Pombe Magufuli wins elections
John Pombe Magufuli, Tanzanian fifth President since 2015.

Kampala, Uganda | URN | The East African Community (EAC) Election Observer Mission to the Tanzania General Election has described the process as having been largely conducted in a peaceful environment.

The preliminary statement was issued a few hours before the National Electoral Commission announced incumbent John Pombe Magufuli the duly elected President.

Magufuli polled 12.5 million votes, or 84%, against Chadema candidate, Tundu Lissu’s 1.9 million, or 13%. Turnout was roughly 50%, with 14.8 million people voting after 29 million registered.

The mission led by former Burundi President, Sylvester Ntibantunganya says all political parties and candidates were able to conduct their campaigns across the country freely, while the opening of polling stations followed existing laws and procedures.

The statement by Ntibantunganya adds that voting proceeded smoothly in most of the 160 polling stations observed, with the National Electoral Commission officials demonstrating good levels of competence and compliance with the laws. “The National Electoral Commission professionally organised the elections. 

“The Mission particularly appreciates the gradual publication of the provisional results as they reach the National Electoral Commission”, says the statement. The Mission also observed the early stages of the transmission and tabulation of results and is expected to provide an in-depth assessment in its final report.

The Mission urged all political parties to seek redress through available legal channels should they be dissatisfied with the outcome, for the “best interests of the people of Tanzania, including peace and security”, and refrain from any activity that could compromise the same.

The opposition party, Chadema circulated through its social media channels what they called photographic evidence of injured polling agents of the opposition in some areas and claimed, the attackers ran away with poling materials. It said the violence in Tarime has been especially high. Similar incidents were also reported in the semi-autonomous Zanzibar.

The Mission notes the commitment of the people of  Tanzania for their commitment to the, saying they have demonstrated wisdom particularly in safeguarding peace and security that are prerequisites for a peaceful and credible electoral process. 

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The United States has said that “irregularities and the overwhelming margins of victory raise serious doubts about the credibility of the results announced.”

Few international election observers were present, unlike in past years. The vote “marked the most significant backsliding in Tanzania’s democratic credentials,” Tanzania Elections Watch, a group of regional experts, said in an assessment released Friday. It noted a heavy deployment of military and police whose conduct created a “climate of fear.”

“The electoral process, so far, falls way below the acceptable international standards” for holding free and fair elections, the group said.