Tanzania's populist leader declared winner of flawed vote

The ruling party CCM presidential candidate Dr. John Magufuli casts his vote at Chamwino in Dodoma Wednesday. Oct. 28, 2020. The populist Magufuli, who made his name in part by targeting corruption, now seeks a second five-year term in one of Africa's most populous and fastest-growing economies. (AP Photo)
The ruling party CCM presidential candidate Dr. John Magufuli casts his vote at Chamwino in Dodoma Wednesday. Oct. 28, 2020. The populist Magufuli, who made his name in part by targeting corruption, now seeks a second five-year term in one of Africa's most populous and fastest-growing economies. (AP Photo) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

DODOMA – Tanzania’s populist President John Magufuli has been declared the overwhelming winner of a second term amid allegations of widespread election fraud, while the ruling party won enough seats in parliament to change the constitution.

The national electoral commission late Friday said Magufuli received 12.5 million votes, or 84%, while top opposition candidate Tundu Lissu received 1.9 million, or 13%. Turnout was roughly 50%, with 14.8 million people voting after 29 million registered.

The ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi party won parliament seats in 253 of the 261 constituencies announced so far, achieving upsets in opposition strongholds by wide margins.

Some in the ruling party had called for the presidency’s two-term limit to be extended if enough parliament seats could be secured.

Lissu has rejected the vote while alleging “widespread irregularities” and called for peaceful demonstrations. The opposition asserts that thousands of observers were turned away from polling stations on Wednesday, and that at least a dozen people were killed on the eve of the vote in the semi-autonomous region of Zanzibar. Internet and text-messaging services slowed dramatically or disappeared.

But electoral commission chair, Semistocles Kaijage, asserted in late Friday's announcement that all the votes were legitimate.

Large crowds of ruling party supporters who had gathered to watch the election results were celebrating in the streets. There was no immediate comment by the president.

The two main opposition parties, Lissu's CHADEMA and ACT Wazalendo, planned to to hold a joint press conference on Saturday, a spokesman said.