Tanzania’s President John Magufuli has won the presidential election, the National Electoral Commission announced on Friday, giving him a second five-year term.
Magufuli of the long ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) received 12.5 million votes in Wednesday’s election – or 85 percent – while his main challenger, Tundu Lissu of the Chadema party, got 1.9 million votes, or 13 percent, the electoral commission said.
Lissu has dismissed the election as a “travesty”, alleging widespread irregularities.
The opposition candidate’s claims have been supported by civil society groups. 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.
Journalists have accused Tanzania’s government of silencing critics of President Magufuli ahead of the October 28 election. The authorities this year suspended a number of media groups from broadcasting or publishing, raising fears of growing censorship. The Reporters Without Borders 2020 World Press Freedom Index ranks Tanzania 124th out of 180 countries.
Magufuli, celebrated for his efforts to tackle corruption, campaigned with the promise that he would boost the economy by completing ambitious infrastructure projects he started in his first term. Under the president, Tanzania has recorded average growth of close to 7% over the last four years, according to official figures, as the government invested billions of dollars in infrastructure.
Magufuli’s main challengers in the election were Lissu and former foreign minister Bernard Membe of ACT-Wazalendo.
Magufuli’s CCM party, 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.