Tanzania’s President John Magufuli won the presidential election, the National Electoral Commission said late on Friday, a contest dismissed by the opposition as a “travesty” because of widespread irregularities.
Magufuli received 12.5 million votes (85 percent) in Wednesday’s election while his main challenger, Tundu Lissu of the Chadema party, got 1.9 million votes (13 percent) the electoral commission said.
“The commission declares John Magufuli of CCM [Chama Cha Mapinduzi] who garnered the majority of votes as the winner in the presidential seat,” said commission chairman Semistocles Kaijage.
Magufuli had been seeking a second five-year term and promised voters he will boost the economy by completing ambitious infrastructure projects he started in his first term.
Lissu previously said he will not accept the eventual election results.
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 on 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.
Magufuli’s CCM party, a version of which has held power in Tanzania since independence from Britain in 1961, had already retained power in the semi-autonomous Indian Ocean archipelago of Zanzibar with 76 percent of the vote.
Dozens of opposition party officials and members were arrested in Zanzibar on Thursday and at least one is in hospital with severe injuries after allegations he was beaten by police, who have not commented on the incident.
The election was marred by allegations of arrests of candidates and protesters, restrictions on agents of political parties to access polling stations, multiple voting, pre-ticking of ballots, and widespread blocking of social media.