Election: EU releases preliminary statement

Police stand guard outside the tallying station in Kinondoni as opposition supporters celebrate throughout the night. Photo: Daniel Hayduk

Police stand guard outside the tallying station in Kinondoni early on Wednesday October 28 as opposition supporters peacefully celebrate throughout the night. Photo: Daniel Hayduk

As vote tallying continues, the European Union election observation mission described the overall atmosphere surrounding elections in Tanzania as organized but not always transparent and sometimes marred with localized violence.

“Although there were a few problems in a small number of polling stations the overall picture was one of millions of people exercising their voting rights in a peaceful environment and demonstrating their commitment to the democratic process,” says EU chief observer Judith Sargentini.

A number of localized disputes resulting in violence have occured and detract from the quality of the campaign, says the preliminary report, which was compiled from the findings of 141 observers who visited 625 polling stations across the country.

The Citizen newspaper reports that in some parts of the country the military has been deployed to disperse crowds protesting delays in releasing results.

(The National Electoral Commission says the delays are caused because individual polling stations have been slow in delivering their results to constituency level tallying centres, where a computerized system takes over.)

The EU mission says the amount of transparency provided to political parties by the National Electoral Commission (NEC) and Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) was ‘insufficient to build confidence.’

“The NEC and ZEC did not provide for full transparency regarding their decision-making processes, and stakeholders’  access to scrutinize the commissions’ activities was not always granted,” says the report.

The report also says that ruling party CCM continues to benefit from its historic legacy and use of ‘what were formerly state resources and assets’ which ‘contributed to an imbalance in the electoral playing field.’

The Southern African Development Community and African Union observers have described the election as free, fair, transparent and peaceful.

Presidential election results are expected to be announced by Thursday morning and the new president is to be sworn in on next Thursday, November 5.

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