President Facing Strong Challenge in Tanzanian Vote
President Facing Strong Challenge in Tanzanian Vote

The leader of Tanzania?s parliamentary opposition says indications on the ground point to the re-election of incumbent President Jakaya Kikwete, despite a stiff challenge from opponents in Sunday?s vote.

Hamad Rashid said the financial and logistical advantages at the disposal of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party made it difficult for the opposition to effectively compete across the country.

?Taking into account the area of Tanzania, [a] very huge country with 14 million people [voters], you need 50,000 polling agents to oversee the election, which we don?t have. You have to pay those people, and the only party which has such money or resources is the ruling party,? he said.

Rashid also criticized the electoral commission as not being independent to organize a credible vote.

?We don?t have very much independence in the electoral commission. Here in Pemba, they brought ballot papers without informing us as a result we found out that some of the ballot papers were missing here and there. So, these are the situations which we are facing,? Rashid said.

Tanzanians are awaiting results from Sunday's presidential election in which President Kikwete ran for a second five-year term. The electoral commission said Monday that vote counting is complete, but it has yet to release full election results.

Partial returns indicate that Mr. Kikwete is leading his six challengers. Observers said Sunday's voting went smoothly except for a few polling stations opening late and some complaints about names missing from the voter list.

But, Rashid predicted opposition gains in the vote.

?As you remember, in the last session, we had only but one opposition [in parliament]. This time we are going to have more than 70 to 80, I think. So, I think the challenge [in parliament] will be very effective and very strong. I have no doubt about that,? said Rashid.

He also called for a constitutional amendment on the funding of elections he insists would make an equal playing field for all political parties in future elections.

There were reports of clashes between police and protesters in the city of Mwanza and in the capital, Dar es Salaam. A Tanzanian newspaper, The Citizen, reports the fighting in Dar es Salaam was over a disputed local council election. It says the fighting in Mwanza was over delayed election results.

Tanzanians also voted for new members of parliament and regional assemblies on Sunday.