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

The registrar of political parties in Tanzania has congratulated all participating parties for making the election ?competitive,? and described Sunday?s vote as a true mark of a vibrant democracy.

John Tendwa told VOA the sporadic nature of the results released so far make it difficult to correctly predict which of the parties has a commanding lead. He said, despite minor challenges, the elections were largely peaceful.

?Some did not see their names on the voters? role. I think the reason is people were told a long time ago to ?please come and check your name if they are correctly spelled and/or if they are there.? But, some people ignored (it) including the last time they were asked to check their names.?

Tanzania?s electoral commission is reportedly scheduled to release a majority of the election results Monday. Analysts said challenger Willibord Slaa gained momentum in the closing weeks before the vote.

But, pre-election opinion polls showed President Kikwete holding a lead over the six other presidential candidates, despite decreasing popularity in recent months.

Tendwa said the election has been the most competitive since the beginning of multi-party democracy in the country.

?I?m saying keep it up because they (parties) have done very well. This is actually what I wanted. The competition must be high because that is the growth of democracy in this country. You cannot have one party, a dominant party. No way. And then, you say you have a multi-party democracy, I won?t agree with that,? Tendwa said.

International observers say voting was smooth and orderly except for a few polling stations opening late and some complaints about names missing from voter lists.

The president has overseen several years of strong economic growth, but critics say he has not done enough to battle corruption or improve living standards for the average Tanzanian.

Tanzanians also voted for new members of parliament and regional assemblies Sunday. The electoral commission suspended a few of those elections because of a shortage of ballots.

The president's CCM (Chama Cha Mapinduzi) party has governed Tanzania since the country won independence from Britain in 1961.