Vote counting is underway in Tanzania following general elections held on 28 October to choose a president, members of parliament and ward councillors.
According to the National Electoral Commission (NEC) of Tanzania, counting commenced immediately after the end of voting around 4pm (1300 GMT).
The counting is taking place at the more than 64,000 polling stations across the mainland and semi-autonomous island of Zanzibar where over 29.1 million registered voters had the opportunity to cast their ballots.
Results are expected to be announced within one week.
A total of 15 candidates ran for president in the mainland, including incumbent President John Magufuli of the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party, which has been in power since independence in 1961.
Other top candidates were Tundu Lissu, leader of the main opposition Party for Democracy and Progress, commonly known as Chadema party, as well as former foreign minister and ex-senior CCM official, Bernard Membe who now leads the Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT-Wazalendo).
During the campaign trail, Magufuli, who is seeking re-election for a second and final term, had pledged to boost the countrys economy and completing several projects aimed at making Tanzania a great nation.
Since he came into power in November 2015, Magufuli has implemented a number of projects aimed at transforming the country and in July 2020 the country duly achieved its middle-income vision, five years ahead of schedule.
Lissu, who returned to Tanzania in July after spending three years in Belgium, had promised to improve education and health service in the country if he is elected president.
Membe, who served as foreign minister from 2007 to 2015, had also pledged to improve the economy as well as address poverty.
Tanzania uses the First-Past-the-Post electoral system to choose its president and members of parliament.
In the last election held in 2015, Magufuli won 58.46 percent of the total votes cast against 39.97 percent collected by his nearest rival, Edward Lowassa, then leader of Chadema.
The October 28 presidential poll took place concurrently with parliamentary elections, in which parties contested for 264 seats in a unicameral Parliament.
The National Assembly of Tanzania, the Bunge, has 393 members of which 264 are elected in single-seat constituencies and 118 are indirectly elected, including 113 women elected by political parties in proportion to their share of the electoral vote, and five members from Zanzibar, two of whom must be women.
Ten members are appointed by the Union president, of whom five must be women, and one seat is reserved for the Attorney General. The Speaker may be designated from outside Parliament and becomes a Member of Parliament by virtue of holding the office of Speaker.
In the outgoing National Assembly, 248 seats were occupied by men and 145 seats by women, for a proportion of 36.9 percent women.
The United Republic of Tanzania is a union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar established in 1964. The Zanzibar islands elect their own president and parliament as well as voting for the Union president and parliament.
Hussein Mwinyi was the ruling CCM party presidential candidate in Zanzibar, and he contested against Maalim Seif Sharif Hamad of the ACT-Wazalendo.
The Chadema party did not field a presidential candidate in Zanzibar, and backed Hamad.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC), to which Tanzania is a founding member, expressed confidence that the peaceful conditions that preceded the 28 October elections would prevail on Election Day.
I wish to commend the people of the United Republic of Tanzania for the peaceful and exemplary manner in which they have conducted themselves during the election campaign period, despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, said SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation Chairperson, President Mokgweetsi Masisi of Botswana.
Due to the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, SADC was unable to physically deploy its electoral observation mission to Tanzania.
Instead, SADC adopted a virtual approach of consultation with electoral stakeholders in the furtherance of consolidation of democracy in the region in accordance with the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections, Masisi said.
He expressed gratitude to the electoral stakeholders in Tanzania for availing themselves during the virtual consultations that took place on 14 October. sardc.net