Tanzania Ruling Party Keeps Lead as Opposition Rejects Poll

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The Tanzanian ruling party’s presidential candidate maintained his lead in the country’s Oct. 25 elections with results from almost half of all constituencies counted, the National Electoral Commission said. The main opposition party said it will reject the outcome of the poll.

John Magufuli of the Chama Cha Mapinduzi party is beating opposition candidate Edward Lowassa, of Chadema, in 90 of the 115 constituencies counted so far, Damian Lubuva, chairman of the commission, told reporters on Tuesday in the commercial capital, Dar es Salaam. The nation has 264 voting districts.

Chadema’s chairman, Freeman Mbowe, said on Tuesday that an independent count the party is conducting at polling stations across the country is different from the official tally and the results won’t be accepted.

Tanzania is Africa’s third-biggest gold producer and its $49 billion economy grew more than 7 percent last year. Political stability will be an important factor for investors as the nation seeks to diversify into gas production, with an estimated 55 trillion cubic feet of reserves that are the biggest in East Africa after Mozambique.

Generally Organized

While the poll was generally well organized, the electoral administration displayed “insufficient transparency,” the European Union’s Chief Observer Judith Sargentini told reporters.

A new leader for the union government of mainland Tanzania and the semi-autonomous islands of Zanzibar will be inaugurated on Nov. 5, outgoing President Jakaya Kikwete said on Monday.

Zanzibar’s main opposition Civic United Front party has said it is confident of victory for its presidential candidate, Seif Sharif Hamad.

Zanzibar, which has been a flash point in previous elections, also voted for a separate president during Sunday’s poll. There’s still a risk of violence breaking out there when results are announced, NKC Research analyst Francois Conradie said in an e-mailed research note on Monday.

“We have enhanced security and patrols are being conducted in the town as we wait for the official declaration,” Zanzibar Commissioner of Police Hamdani Makame said by phone from the island.

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