DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) - Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete told security forces on Saturday to be on the alert after being sworn in for a second term following elections marred by low voter turnout and allegations of vote rigging.
The main opposition Chadema party, whose candidate finished closest to Kikwete, has rejected the outcome, asserting fraud had occurred. Party leaders had warned before the vote that they would consider “civil disobedience” if the election was rigged.
Tanzania’s electoral commission and security intelligence agencies were accused by opposition parties of falsifying both the presidential and parliamentary results in favour of Kikwete and his party following the October 31 vote.
Local and foreign observers, including the European Union, voiced concern about the transparency of the vote tabulation.
For three days, police used tear gas and water cannon against protesters angry at the delay in some results and the credibility of others in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam and some other parts of east Africa’s second biggest economy.
The election was seen as a test of the dominance of the ruling party but the low turnout weakened Kikwete’s victory.
The turnout of 43 percent of the 20 million registered voters was the lowest in Tanzanian history.
“The election is over. We should let bygones be bygones and ensure peace and stability prevail,” Kikwete, 60, who garnered 61 percent of the vote, said in his inauguration speech.
“I would like our security forces to be on alert. We should not give opportunity to anybody or any groups of people from inside or outside Tanzania to endanger our peace,” said Kikwete after a 21-gun salute in his honour.
Tanzanian elders awarded Kikwete a traditional African stool and a shield decorated in the colours of the national flag as a large crowd that filled a 30,000-capacity stadium cheered.
Presidents Jacob Zuma of South Africa, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Mwai Kibaki of Kenya, Rupiah Banda of Zambia and Joseph Kabila of Democratic Republic of Congo were present.
The Chadema party leader, Willibrod Slaa, boycotted the ceremony and its top leaders said they would meet to decide their next course of action.
The other main opposition parties, Civic United Front (CUF) and NCCR-Mageuzi, also complained of gross election irregularities. They said they accepted the results but have asked for talks with the CCM to discuss the election process.
Kikwete must step down after his next term and regional analysts said he would not be compelled to accommodate the factions in his party to maintain their support, and that this may free him to made radical changes and improve the economy.
Tanzania, Africa’s fourth biggest gold producer, has enjoyed relative stability in a volatile region but is mired in poverty.
Foreign donors cut heir contributions to the 2010-11 budget in protest at the slow pace of reforms by Kikwete.
“In his next five years, Kikwete needs to focus on... the modernisation of agriculture and creating small-scale industries and investment in infrastructure,” said Palamagamba Kabudi, a professor at the University of Dar es Salaam’s faculty of law.
“Kikwete and CCM have been wounded in the election by the strong performance of opposition candidates. It’s a wakeup call for him to get his act together in his second term,” said Brian Maganga, a college student in Dar es Salaam.