DAR ES SALAAM, TANZANIA - Millions of Tanzanians are voting in elections that will decide if President John Magufuli, known as the "Bulldozer" for targeting corruption and critics, will get another five-year term. Ahead of the polls, though, opposition politicians say authorities have targeted them with violence and intimidation, while some internet and phone services were cut off.
Tanzanians cast their ballots Wednesday in elections to decide if President John Magufuli gets another five years in office, despite his government cracking down on critics and the press.
Magufuli, who leads the ruling CCM party, is running against 15 challengers.
His main one, the CHADEMA party’s Tundu Lissu, returned in July to Tanzania from three years of self-imposed exile after surviving an attack where he was shot 16 times.
Magufuli has a reputation for cracking down on corruption and pushing large infrastructure projects, but also for squeezing critics and the media.
Dar es Salaam residents lined up to cast their ballots Wednesday and declined to tell a reporter who they voted for.
Kiosk owner Rovitha Mitambwe said she was keen to take part in the vote.
She says what motivates her to vote is to choose a president with leadership who will do justice for both her and all Tanzanians.
Even before voting began, however, opposition parties accused authorities of targeting them with violence.
The ACT-Wazalendo party said Tuesday that security forces have fatally shot nine people since Monday, some while protesting against election fraud in the Zanzibar archipelago.
Tanzanian police said there were no reports of anyone being killed.
The opposition CHADEMA party chairperson Freeman Mbowe tweeted early Wednesday that armed men had raided his hotel and taken two of his security guards.
CHADEMA’s Lissu said the party’s polling agents were blocked from stations and stuffed ballot boxes were seized.
Dar es Salaam voter Jackson Balongo told a reporter he witnessed one polling station mixing up voter names.
He says voters knew they were going to vote at a certain station and then they found their name wasn’t on the list or they found their names at another station. This was a problem, says Balongo, that made some people go home without voting.
Telephone data and internet disruptions also were reported ahead of the polls, including to social media applications WhatsApp and Twitter.
Tanzanian authorities dismissed the disruptions, saying they were not connected to the election.
Official results are expected by the end of the week.