The ruling party CCM presidential candidate Dr. John Magufuli casts his vote at Chamwino in Dodoma Wednesday. Oct. 28, 2020. The populist Magufuli, who made his name in part by targeting corruption, now seeks a second five-year term in one of Africa's most populous and fastest-growing economies. (AP Photo)

Tanzania’s populist President John Magufuli has been declared the overwhelming winner of a second term amid allegations of widespread election fraud, while the ruling party won enough seats in parliament to change the constitution.

The national electoral commission late Friday said Magufuli received 12.5 million votes, or 84%, while top opposition candidate Tundu Lissu received 1.9 million, or 13%. Turnout was roughly 50%, with 14.8 million people voting after 29 million registered.

The ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi party won parliament seats in 253 of the 261 constituencies announced so far, achieving upsets in opposition strongholds by wide margins.

Some in the ruling party had called for the presidency’s two-term limit to be extended if enough parliament seats could be secured.

Chadema Presidential Candidate Tundu Lissu smiles as he shows his finger marked with ink after casting his vote at Ntewa Primary School’s polling station in Ikungi town Singida region, Tanzania, Wednesday. Oct.28, 2020. Opposition challenger Lissu has urged people to go into the streets to protest if election results are announced Thursday without being counted properly. (AP Photo)

Lissu has rejected the vote while alleging “widespread irregularities” and called for peaceful demonstrations. The opposition asserts that thousands of observers were turned away from polling stations on Wednesday and that at least a dozen people were killed on the eve of the vote in the semi-autonomous region of Zanzibar. Internet and text-messaging services slowed dramatically or disappeared.

A police officer enforces pre-election laws during ongoing security operations prior to Tanzania’s general elections, in Stone Town, Zanzibar, Tanzania, 27 October 2020. Police forces have been forcefully quelling any attempts by locals to protest ahead of the general elections scheduled on 28 October 2020. Incumbent President John Magufuli is seeking re-election on the mainland among a crowded field of 15 contenders. He is the candidate of the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party, which has led Tanzania since independence in 1961. EPA-EFE/ANTHONY SIAME

But electoral commission chair, Semistocles Kaijage, asserted in late Friday’s announcement that all the votes were legitimate.

Large crowds of ruling party supporters who had gathered to watch the election results were celebrating in the streets. There was no immediate comment by the president.

The two main opposition parties, Lissu’s CHADEMA and ACT Wazalendo, planned to hold a joint press conference on Saturday, a spokesman said.

Tundu Lissu during one of his campaign stops.

The United States has said that “irregularities and the overwhelming margins of victory raise serious doubts about the credibility of the results announced.”

Few international election observers were present, unlike in past years.

Police Officer harassing people in Zanzibar

The vote “marked the most significant backsliding in Tanzania’s democratic credentials,” Tanzania Elections Watch, a group of regional experts, said in an assessment released Friday. It noted a heavy deployment of military and police whose conduct created a “climate of fear.”

“The electoral process, so far, falls way below the acceptable international standards” for holding free and fair elections, the group said.

Tanzanian police officers patrol outside Garagara Playground polling station in Mtoni, Zanzibar, on October 28, 2020. (Photo by Patrick Meinhardt / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK MEINHARDT/AFP via Getty Images)

The opposition alleges widespread irregularities including double-voting and ballot box-seizing by security forces or other authorities.

The East African nation is one of Africa’s most populous countries and fastest-growing economies. Magufuli has pointed to the country’s achievement of lower-middle-income status as one reason he deserves another term.

Maalim Seif Sharif Hamad campaigning in Zanzibar

But observers say Tanzania’s reputation for democratic ideals is crumbling, with Magufuli accused of severely stifling dissenting voices in his first five-year term. Opposition political gatherings were banned in 2016, the year after he took office. Media outlets have been targeted. Some candidates were arrested, blocked from campaigning, or disqualified ahead of the vote.

Concerns of post-election violence linger. The ACT Wazalendo presidential candidate in Zanzibar was arrested on Thursday for the second time this week before being released. Another ACT Wazalendo official there, Ismail Jussa, was badly beaten by soldiers and hospitalized, the party said.

Source: AP

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