DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania, Oct 24 – Presidential hopefuls in Tanzania were holding their final campaign rallies Saturday, a day before East Africa’s most populous country holds general elections, expected to be the tightest in the nation’s history.
Outgoing President Jakaya Kikwete, who is not running having served his constitutional two-term limit, has ordered the police to boost security to ensure voting in the country of some 52 million people passes off peacefully.
“I want to lead the country to development and good welfare,” said John Magufuli of the long-ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) and the favourite to win the national race, in one of his final speeches.
“Everyone deserves a better life irrespective of his or her political inclination.”
But many believe Magufuli, 55, will face a tough challenge from the main opposition parties who have rallied around ex-prime minister Edward Lowassa, 62. He recently defected from the CCM to the opposition Chadema, heading a coalition of parties.
“Let us kick CCM out of office, the regime that has failed the nation for all the 54 years it has been in office,” Lowassa said.
“This is going to be the toughest, but most exciting election in the country’s history,” said veteran politician Pius Msekwa, a former CCM party vice-chairman, and vice chancellor of the University of Dar es Salaam.