Tanzania's Magufuli Set to Win Vote as Opposition Cries Foul

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  • Magufuli has lead in 135 of 166 constituencies counted so far
  • Opposition will reject final result and warns of unrest

Tanzania’s ruling party candidate headed for victory in the nation’s presidential elections with more than half of all constituencies counted in Africa’s third-biggest gold producer, as the opposition rejected the results and warned of unrest.

John Magufuli of the Chama Cha Mapinduzi party leads opposition candidate Edward Lowassa in 135 of the 166 constituencies counted so far, Damian Lubuva, chairman of the commission, told reporters on Wednesday in the commercial capital, Dar es Salaam. The nation has 264 voting districts.

The opposition Chadema party said on Tuesday it won’t accept the final outcome of the vote because an independent count it’s conducting at polling stations across the country differs from the official tally. A European Union observer mission found that while the poll was well organized, the electoral authorities displayed “insufficient transparency,” Chief Observer Judith Sargentini told reporters in Dar es Salaam.

Tanzania’s $49 billion economy grew more than 7 percent last year. Political stability in the East African nation is 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 the region after Mozambique.

Magufuli’s CCM expects to win two-thirds of the seats in parliament, deputy Communications Minister and party campaign director January Makamba said in an interview, enabling it to pass legislation with little resistance from the opposition in the National Assembly.

The opposition Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo party said on Tuesday it plans to reject the outcome announced by the electoral authorities because of irregularities and warned unrest may follow the final announcement.

“We can’t say how many parliamentary seats we have got because the police destroyed our tally center, and the national electoral commission is delaying to announce winners in opposition strongholds,” Freeman Mbowe, chairman of Chadema, said from Dar es Salaam. “The peace and tranquility that’s been enjoyed in this country for very many years may just flip over night. We won’t sit down and cry. This can no longer go on unabated.”

Analysts including Ahmed Salim from Teneo Intelligence said they expected the opposition to obtain more parliamentary seats after Lowassa defected from the ruling party in July.

“Although the results are still trickling in, Chadema has already performed better than it did in 2010, where it won 23 seats,” Salim said on Wednesday.