Magufuli takes second term oath of office

Friday, November 6th, 2020 00:00 |
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni greets Tanzania’s John Pombe Magufuli at the swearing in ceremony in Dodoma yesterday. Photo/COURTESY

Dar es Salaam,Thursday

Tanzania’s populist President John Magufuli has been sworn into office for a second five-year term amid tight security by the police and the army.

The swearing-in on Thursday came despite the opposition calling for a fresh election, the disbandment of the electoral commission and an “endless peaceful demonstration” over the October 28 vote.

Magufuli over the weekend said he would not pursue another term amid concerns that the governing party, which won nearly all parliament seats, might try to extend the presidency’s two-term limit.

Ahead of the swearing-in, leaders of Tanzania’s two main opposition parties, ACT Wazalendo and CHADEMA, were charged with organising unlawful assembly and demonstration.

The opposition alleges the October 28 election was riddled with irregularities.

Magufuli received 12.5 million – or 85 percent – of the total votes polled, while his main challenger, CHADEMA’S Tundu Lissu, got 1.9 million or 13 percent, the electoral commission said.

After the landslide results were announced, CHADEMA and fellow opposition party ACT Wazalendo called for new elections and mass protests.

But police swiftly arrested the parties’ leaders, while a heavy security presence deterred potential protesters and the demonstrations never took place.

CHADEMA’s Tundu Lissu, ACT Wazalendo’s leader Zitto Kabwe, and several other opposition leaders were arrested this week.

Kabwe had called for a panel of African leaders to investigate “large-scale irregularities” during the polls.

Several nations, including the United States, noted credible allegations that call the vote’s results – and the country’s democratic ideals – into question. Few international observers were allowed to watch the vote.

CCM party, a version of which has held power in Tanzania since independence from Britain in 1961, has also retained power in the semi-autonomous Indian Ocean archipelago of Zanzibar with 76 percent of the vote.

Magufuli has won the presidential election last week, a contest dismissed by the opposition as a “travesty” because of widespread irregularities.

“The commission declares John Magufuli of CCM [Chama Cha Mapinduzi] who garnered the majority of votes as the winner in the presidential seat,” said commission chairman Semistocles Kaijage.

Magufuli had been seeking a second five-year term and promised voters he will boost the economy by completing ambitious infrastructure projects he started in his first term.

Lissu previously said he will not accept the eventual election results. 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”. - AFP

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