DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) - International observers in Tanzania said on Tuesday the slow release of results after Sunday’s presidential election risked angering voters and voiced concerns about the transparency of the counting process.
The European Union’s chief observer, David Martin, said his team would remain in the east African nation to monitor the tallying process and post-election developments.
“We are concerned by any delays in the announcement of the results as this creates both uncertainty and suspicion among the electorate and we have concerns about the transparency of the aggregation process,” Martin told reporters in Tanzania’s commercial capital Dar es Salaam.
Residents said the city was calm a day after riot police fired tear-gas and water canons to disperse opposition supporters frustrated by the delays in announcing results.
Early figures have given incumbent President Jakaya Kikwete the advantage as results trickle in. Kikwete, who heads the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party, is expected to win a second term but the margin could be tight.
Final presidential results are due out by Friday at the latest, said Tanzania’s National Electoral Commission
Earlier, the defeated candidate in the presidential contest on Tanzania’s semi-autonomous islands of Zanzibar said the vote was unfair, but accepted a position in a coalition government to avoid violence.
In the 2000 election 35 people died and there were allegations of vote rigging, as there were in the 2005 vote.
The EU observer group said the presidential and parliamentary polls had been conducted peacefully but the trappings of office had given Kikwete far greater campaign visibility than his opponents.
“In the mainland, the Chama Cha Mapinduzi enjoyed the advantages of the incumbency and also what seemed a broad financial base allowing it to carry out campaigns with an overwhelming visibility compared to other parties,” said Martin.
Confirmed results from 53 of the nation’s 239 constituencies handed the CCM 33 seats in the assembly but a number of high profile ruling party candidates, including four cabinet ministers, were ousted by voters.
The main opposition Chadema party, whose presidential candidate Willibrod Slaa campaigned hard on an anti-corruption platform, appeared to be making the most gains.
State television said the CCM had won 43 seats from 70 constituencies.
While the Zanzibar Indian Ocean archipelago surprised some observers with its peaceful outcome, there were signs of growing impatience on the mainland which has traditionally been calm after ballots.
“This year’s election was good compared to previous elections, but the situation could change because of the delay in announcing the results in some areas,” said Dar es Salaam resident Omar Miraji.
Accepting his fourth consecutive poll defeat in Zanzibar, Seif Sharif Hamad called on restraint from his supporters.
“Zanzibar needs to heal,” said Hamad. Zanzibar’s constitution was amended earlier this year to force rival parties to share power to avert more bloodshed.