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Excitement As Tanzanians Prepare For Sunday’s General Election

  • Douglas Mpuga

Supporters of Tanzania’s ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM - Revolutionary Party) turned up in big numbers in the commercial capital, Dar es Salaam, Saturday at President Jakaya Kikwete's final campaign rally on the eve of general elections he is expected to win.

Kikwete is now facing five opposition candidates after a sixth withdrew in the last minute because his name was misspelled on the ballot.

The incumbent faces a spirited challenge from Chadema’s Dr. Willibrod Slaa, and Professor Ibrahim Lipumba, the Chairman of the Civic United Front (CUF).

Opposition parties also held final rallies in other regions of the vast country. Local media have described the run up to this year's elections as the most vibrant since the country re-introduced multi-party politics in 1992.

“People are excited and the mood is so positive; people want tomorrow to come,” said Rosemary Mwakitwange, the Executive Chairman of the East Africa Business and Media Training Institute.

Along the streets, she said, “you see lots of flags dominated by CCM colours - yellow and green. It could be because a party like Chadema is having its closing rally in Mbeya about 800 kilometres from Dar es Salaam.”

Mwakitangwe attributed the visibility of the opposition political parties in this election to the work of the media that have tried to cover rallies of all political parties.

She said this year’s election has seen CCM’s dominance on power challenged and the competition is real.
Mwakitangwe noted that some people are concerned and worried about the transparency of the national electoral commission in addressing the issue of stealing the votes.

“People doubt the capacity of the national electoral commission to deliver a clear, transparent election,” she said.
“The opposition is claiming they have evidence of vote rigging but yesterday Jakaya Kikwete, the candidate for CCM, was on national media assuring Tanzanians that vote rigging cannot happen.”

Kikwete said on Friday it would be difficult to steal votes because all parties would be represented at every polling stations to ensure transparency.

The CUF and another opposition party, CHADEMA, have also accused Kikwete's party of planning to rig Sunday's polls, with one CHADEMA official claiming that at least four million fake ballots had been distributed across the country.

Although Kikwete is likely to win, reports from Tanznaia’s semi-autonomous Zanzibar Island, say the race there looks much closer. Supporters of the two top presidential candidates there also gathered for the last-day rallies.

Veteran opposition leader Seif Sharif Hamad of the CUF and his ruling party rival Ali Mohamed Shein of the CCM are headed for a tight race for Zanzibar's presidency.

Tanzania has enjoyed political stability, unlike its neighbors Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo that have been plagued by unrest.

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