29 Million Tanzanians Set To Cast Their Votes Today
28 October 2020
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Paul Nyathi

Polls have opened in Tanzania’s general election, following nationwide reports of restricted internet access plus the arrest of an opposition leader in the semi-autonomous islands of Zanzibar.

Voters have until 16:00 local time (13:00 GMT) to cast their ballot.

Results are expected to be announced within one week.

President John Magufuli, whose Chama Cha Mapenduzi (CCM) party has ruled Tanzania since independence in 1961, is seeking a second term in office.

His main challenger is Tundu Lissu of the biggest opposition party, Chadema, who survived an assassination attempt three years ago. He returned from Belgium in July where he had undergone rounds of treatment for gunshot wounds.

In all, 15 candidates are running for president – including former foreign minister Bernard Membe, an ex-colleague-turned-critic of Mr Magufuli who defected from the ruling party and now leads ACT Wazalendo.

Both Magufuli and Lissu have drawn huge crowds during their campaigns.

However Lissu’s campaign was suspended for seven days after being accused of sedition by the electoral commission. He had reportedly said that Magufuli was planning to rig the elections, but the commission said there were no such attempts.

Under Tanzania’s electoral rules, the winning candidate requires a simple majority to become president.

Some 29.1 million people are registered to vote in Wednesday’s general election – six million more than than the previous polls in 2015.

They include residents of Zanzibar who vote for the islands’ leaders – including the election of a Zanzibari president – as well as in Tanzania’s national election.

Zanzibar has a history of contested polls, including in 2015 when they were annulled for not being free and fair. The opposition boycotted the re-run and the ruling CCM party’s candidate was declared the winner.