Tanzania President Rejects Rigged Election Rumours, Warns Against Violence Ahead of Elections

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Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete has rejected accusations that his party plans to rig the presidential elections next week and warned against violence in the build up to polls.

Opposition members claimed on Wednesday that the president’s CCM party intends to rig the October 25th elections, in order to extend its run of power, amidst declining popularity.

President Kikwete firmly denied the accusations, claiming it was an attempt by opposition members to incite violence in the build up to elections.

“This is just a plot by the opposition to cause violence and prevent other people from voting,” the president said. “We are aware of their plot and they shall not succeed.”

 

Declining support for Tanzania’s ruling party

The elections are widely expected to be the closest in Tanzania’s history, where the ruling CCM party has been in power since the country became independent in 1961. The party’s presidential candidate, John Magufuli, currently leads in the opinion polls but public support for the party has recently deteriorated.

Opposition parties have united behind rival candidate and former prime minister, Edward Lowassa, who has become a popular figure throughout the campaigning process. Thousands of supporters have been drawn to his rallies across the country and there’s a genuine belief he could challenge Magufuli for a landmark victory.

 

Tensions rising ahead of vote

Tensions are rising as the elections draw closer and the concern is violence could break out before the ballot boxes open next Sunday. The growing presence of party militias serves as an intimidation tactic to pressure voters, while accusations of rigged votes and the tight nature of the elections only add to the tense build up.

President Kikwete has assured any breakouts of violence will be heavily dealt with, before and after the elections.

“Anyone who participates in violence during the elections will be dealt with,” he said. “Our security forces will ensure that the elections are peaceful … we will never allow our democracy to be kidnapped.”

 

Featured image:

Jakaya Kikwete – Partnerships for Development – World Economic Forum on Africa 2011 – 1” by Copyright World Economic Forum (www.weforum.org)/Photo by Matthew Jordaan / Mediapix – Jakaya Kikwete – Partnerships for Development – World Economic Forum on Africa 2011. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons.