DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) - Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete won a second term of office on Friday, taking 61 percent of the vote in a presidential election opponents said was marred by rigging, the National Electoral Commission said.
The election commission has been criticised by opposition parties, which accused it of fiddling both the presidential and parliamentary results in favour of Kikwete and his party.
Local and foreign observers voiced concerns about the transparency of the counting process.
Incumbent Kikwete, 60, won a second and final term at the helm of east Africa’s second largest economy even though political analysts say he has struggled to tackle poverty and curb corruption.
Foreign donors slashed their contributions to the 2010/2011 budget in protest at the slow pace of reforms.
His closest rival, Willibrod Slaa of the Chadema party, who campaigned on an anti-corruption platform, earlier this week called for a recount, but this was rejected by the electoral commission. Slaa polled 26 percent of the total ballots cast.
“I hereby announce that Jakaya Kikwete is elected to be the president of the United Republic of Tanzania”, said the National Electoral Commission Chairman Lewis Makame.
Voter turnout was 43 percent of the registered voters.
With Kikwete compelled to step down after his next term in office, some regional experts said he will no longer have to accommodate the different factions within his CCM party to maintain support for re-election.
“This is likely to result in more decisive action on corruption, with convictions of high profile politicians and civil servants possible,” Joseph Lake of the London-based Economist Intelligence Unit told Reuters in an email.
“It may also result in the adoption of more dynamic policies, and he may try to push through more contentious reforms to help the business environment.”
Political commentators have said a rift within CCM has threatened to undermine Kikwete’s authority as rival camps jostle for control of the party ahead of his departure in 2015.
Questions have also been asked about his health after he publicly collapsed on at least three occasions since 2005.
Earlier, Ibrahim Lipumba, candidate for the opposition Civic United Front, said the results did not reflect the will of the people.
“There were major shortcomings in the election process. I hope Kikwete will realise he needs to have political dialogue with other parties on how to improve the system,” Lipumba told Reuters.
He urged restraint from his supporters.
“We will not call for protests or for people to go into the streets for the sake of peace and security in the country.”
The electoral authorities said earlier this week there may have been some errors in the tally but these would not influence the final result. Under Tanzania’s constitution, the presidential vote result cannot be legally challenged.