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Tanzania election: CCM faces strong challenge from Ukawa

Tanzania is holding its most tightly contested general elections, as a new opposition coalition tries to end the governing party’s 54-year grip on power.

There has been a high turnout at voting stations, reports say.

Opinion polls have put the governing Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party ahead, but the result is expected to be close.

Four opposition groups are backing one candidate, a former prime minister, in the presidential race.

The BBC’s Tulanana Bohela reports from the main city Dar es Salaam that usually busy streets and markets are deserted, and large queues have formed at polling stations as people wait patiently to cast their ballots.

President Jakaya Kikwete, who is standing down after two terms, has called for peace ahead of the election, adding that “anyone who tries to cause trouble will be dealt with”.

A Tanzanian woman is helped by an electoral agent on where to cast her vote for the Tanzanian presidential elections at a polling station on October 25, 2015 in Dar es Salaam
Image copyrightAFP
Image captionSome of the major issues for the almost 23m registered voters are access to clean water, improved health care and better education
Voters in Tanzania
Image captionSome voters felt there should have been separate queues for mothers with children
Voter in Tanzania
Image captionThe elderly, disabled and pregnant are, however, being given preference

CCM was formed in 1977 from a merger of two post-colonial parties and has effectively been in power since independence in 1961.

It has fielded Works Minister John Magufuli, 55, as its presidential candidate.

He is being challenged by Edward Lowassa, 62, who quit CCM after he failed to win its presidential nomination.

He is contesting the poll under the banner of the Ukawa coalition.

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Analysis: Tulanana Bohela, BBC Africa, Dar es Salaam

The unusually high turnout across the country suggests that Tanzanians believe the future is in their hands.

This is in contrast to previous elections when CCM was certain of victory because of a weak and divided opposition.

But politics has been shaken up by the formation of the Ukawa coalition, which believes it has a real chance of winning.

The CCM is equally confident, setting the stage for the most competitive election since independence from British rule.

Tanzanians are hoping that by Monday final results will be out, and they will know who their next president will be.

Both candidates have already cast their ballots.

“I’ve carried out my duty as a citizen by voting. My appeal to those Tanzanians who have not voted is to ensure they do so to elect the people they want,” Mr Magufuli said.

Mr Lowassa said he was confident of victory, and urged people to vote peacefully.

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Last week, he told the BBC Swahili service that he will “go back to his village to rear his cattle” if he loses.

The semi-autonomous island archipelago of Zanzibar is also voting for a president and local leaders.

It has been hit by violence in previous elections, unlike the mainland where elections tend to be peaceful.

The main presidential candidates:

Image copyrightReuters

John Magufuli – Chama Cha Mapinduzi

  • Aged 55, currently works minister
  • Promised change and to improve on the pace of progress laid down by the previous CCM government
  • Promised to end power shortages and exploit Tanzania’s natural gas discoveries
  • “My government will put emphasis on fighting corruption, job creation and industrialisation,” he said on Saturday
  • Nicknamed The Bulldozer for driving a programme to build roads across the country.
Opposition presidential candidate and former Prime Minister Edward Lowassa, who heads the four main opposition parties, speaks at his closing campaign rally in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015.
Image copyrightAP

Edward Lowassa – Ukawa

  • Aged 62, left CCM when it did not pick him as its presidential candidate earlier this year
  • Four opposition parties rallied behind him as their joint candidate
  • “We must stop being a nation of beggars,” he told a rally on Saturday. “It is a shame for Tanzania to still be poor after 54 years of independence.”
  • Has served as prime minister, but resigned over corruption scandal in energy sector
  • Denies involvement in the scandal


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