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Fears of Vote Tampering Increase in Tanzania’s Delayed Election Results

  • Peter Clottey

Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, casts his vote at a poling station at his home village of Msoga in the Coast Region about 120 km north of the capital Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 31 Oct 2010

A Tanzanian political analyst says opposition partisans have expressed concern the electoral commission’s delay in releasing all results of last Sunday’s vote creates an avenue for “vote tampering” in favor of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party.

Xavery Lwaitama, a political science lecturer at the University of Dar-Es Salaam, said many Tanzanians think the electoral commission erred by refusing to investigate and address opposition concerns about election irregularities during the vote counting process.

“[Opposition groups] are saying the results have been unduly delayed in the announcement, and the (electoral commission) leading into this business of announcing the results from the starkly-populated areas of Tanzania which were known to be a stronghold of the ruling party as an attempt to delay the announcement of the vote so that time is given for the ruling party to tamper with the summing up of the vote.”

Main opposition challenger Wilbord Slaa called on the electoral commission to stop releasing the results claiming police and intelligence services rigged the vote. But, Lewis Makame, chairman of the electoral body, rejected the demand.

The latest election results show President Jakaya Kikwete heading toward another five-year term. Lwaitama said the ruling party caused the delay in releasing the bulk of last Sunday’s vote.

“The problem with the Tanzania law is that, once the electoral commission has announced the final count, then the law in Tanzania does not allow any challenge. But, you can challenge the counting and demand a recounting. So, if they [opposition] don’t do that now, they would have raised doubt about the integrity of the commission and whether it is acting impartially,” he said.

“I suspect what the commission is going to do is what the commission in Kenya did, which is hurriedly complete the process and announce the winner, so that, by law, the opposition cannot take recourse to the court. They will now have to take a course to political work in the community appealing to the voters and saying to the voters, ‘Your vote has been stole(n).’ Now, the political outcome of such politicking, I can’t predict.”

The country's electoral commission said Wednesday that Mr. Kikwete has won at least 144 of about 170 constituencies counted so far. It said opposition candidates Ibrahim Limpumba and Wilbord Slaa were running a distant second and third.

The European Union's election observer team said Tuesday that the delay is raising tensions among voters. Tanzanian election officials say final results will be announced by Friday.

The only complete results have come from Tanzania's semi-autonomous island of Zanzibar. On Wednesday, CCM candidate Ali Mohammed Shein was sworn in as Zanzibar's new president.

Related report from VOA's English to Africa "In Focus" program