Last Sunday’s Tanzanian election continues to give cause for concern even though the country has remained peaceful. Piecemeal release of provincial vote counts by the Election Commission, which at least one major opposition party had already accused of inflating the voting rolls in order to create votes out of thin air for incumbent President Jakaya Kikwete, has generated more suspicion. Critics worry that the Commission intended to prepare the electorate for an inevitable Kikwete victory.
Now the main opposition candidate, Dr. Willibrod Slaa of the Party for Democracy and Development, ahead of the Commission’s expected announcement of final results tomorrow, says he will not accept a Kikwete victory but will instead demand a rerun of the Presidential race. Slaa told the BBC that “figures at polling stations and those that are released by the Electoral Commission do not tally” and that it “is obvious we are gaining and we are possible winners.” Meanwhile reports coming out of the Kikwete camp indicate he has started to plan his new cabinet since a handful of current ministers have lost their seats in Tanzania’s parliamentary-style elections.
Although Tanzanians remain tense, many nevertheless see the election of their first albino National Assemblyman as a hopeful sign. Salum Khalfani Barwani of southeast Tanzania’s Lindi Region will bring to the Assembly a commitment to protecting the safety and employment opportunities of albinos. Sorcerers covet their body parts for spells and in the last several years have provoked dozens of murders of albinos in both Tanzania and neighboring Burundi.—Don Stoll