Tanzania’s Magufuli Claims Victory in an Election Marred by Fraud and Violence

Tanzania’s Magufuli Claims Victory in an Election Marred by Fraud and Violence
Tanzanian President John Magufuli’s campaign rally in Dodoma, Tanzania, Oct. 27, 2020 (AP photo).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Andrew Green curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. Subscribers can adjust their newsletter settings to receive Africa Watch by email every week.Tanzanian President John Magufuli claimed an overwhelming if dubious victory in a general election this week that was heavily slanted in his favor. But opposition leaders have rejected the results of Wednesday’s polls, which showed Magufuli winning a second five-year term with 84 percent of the vote, according to the country’s National Electoral Commission. The opposition has called on their supporters to stage peaceful anti-government protests, even as observers warn they could provoke a violent response from authorities.

Tundu Lissu, the main opposition candidate, apparently received just 13 percent of the vote, according to the official tally, which he called “an electoral fraud of a magnitude that is unprecedented in our entire history.” He accused officials from the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi party of blocking opposition observers from polling stations on Election Day so they could stuff ballots. The electoral commission has rejected the claims, although the U.S. Embassy in Tanzania said there had been “credible allegations of significant election-related fraud and intimidation.”

The charges of fraud followed a campaign of persistent harassment and violence against opposition candidates and supporters leading up to the vote, including the electoral commission’s decision to suspend Lissu’s campaign for seven days, for using “seditious language.” Lissu predicted a particularly bloody election season in an interview with WPR earlier this month, telling Sophie Neiman, “The fear of violence in this election is much greater than in previous elections.” Sure enough, opposition parties claimed that security forces and ruling party officials killed at least 11 civilians in two separate incidents days before the vote.

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