Tanzania’s president John Magufuli has won re-election, the national electoral commission said on Friday, after a contest that has been dismissed by the opposition as a “travesty” due to widespread irregularities.
Magufuli received 12.5m votes in Wednesday’s presidential ballot, while his main challenger, Tundu Lissu of the Chadema party, received 1.9m votes, the commission said.
His main rival, Maalim Seif Sharif of ACT-Wazalendo, got 19% – his biggest defeat in any presidential election he has taken part in.
On Thursday, Mr Seif Sharif was arrested shortly after saying that the polls had been rigged and calling for mass protests. He was later released on bail.
Magufuli has been seeking a second five-year term and promised voters that he would boost the economy by completing ambitious infrastructure projects started in his first term.
The US assistant secretary of state for African Affairs, Tibor Nagy, said on Friday: “We remain deeply concerned about reports of systematic interference in the democratic process.”
“We continue to review credible allegations of the use of force against unarmed civilians,” he said in a tweet.
Magufuli’s CCM party, a version of which has held power in Tanzania since independence from Britain in 1961, had already retained power in the semi-autonomous Indian Ocean archipelago of Zanzibar, with 76% of the vote.
Dozens of opposition party officials and members were arrested in Zanzibar on Thursday and at least one was in hospital with severe injuries after allegations he was beaten by the police. The police have not commented on the incident.
The US Embassy in Tanzania said on Thursday there had been “credible allegations of significant election-related fraud and intimidation” in Wednesday’s vote for a president and lawmakers.
The election was marred by allegations of arrests among candidates and protesters, restrictions on the ability of political parties’ agents to access polling stations, multiple voting, pre-ticking of ballots and widespread blocking of social media, the US Embassy said.
The head of the National Electoral Commission, Semistocles Kaijage, said allegations of fake ballot papers were unsubstantiated.