Tanzania’s ruling party candidate, John Magufuli, was declared winner on Thursday of a presidential election, after the national electoral body dismissed opposition complaints about the process and a demand for a recount.

The election has been the most hotly contested race in the more than half a century of rule by the Chama Cha Mapinduzi Party, which fielded Magufuli, 56, a minister for public works.

The main opposition parties united for the first time in a coalition to back a single candidate, former prime minister Edward Lowassa, 62, who had defected from CCM in July when the party snubbed his bid to be their flagbearer.

Lowassa had questioned partial results as they were announced and had called for a recount of the presidential vote in a nation that has been one of Africa’s most politically stable. He had sought to stop a final result declaration.

Adding to tensions, a vote for the president of the semi-autonomous Zanzibar archipelago, traditionally a hotbed of opposition to central government, was annulled on Wednesday by the local election commission there, citing violations.

The opposition on the island said it had won that vote and said the annulment was a ploy by CCM to avoid conceding defeat.

National Electoral Commission Chairman Damian Lubuva told a news conference that Magufuli secured 58 percent of the votes against 40 percent for Lowassa. The body dismissed complaints.

“Since John Pombe Magufuli of the CCM party got the highest number of votes … I hereby officially declare that he has been elected as president,” Lubuva said, adding that turnout was 67 percent of the 22.75 million registers voters.

 


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