Tanzanian ruling party candidate wins presidential election

The ruling party candidate's overwhelming victory in presidential elections was made official Tuesday with an announcement from the National Electoral Commission. The declaration is a legal requirement before Jakaya Kikwete can be sworn in as Tanzania's fourth president since independence from Britain in 1961. "By virtue of having won majority votes, and as the constitution stipulates, Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete is elected to become president of the United Republic of Tanzania," said Makame Tuesday, addressing a hall packed with Revolutionary Party supporters, who cheered wildly. Later Tuesday, the High Court rejected a petition by an opposition leader who had sought to stop the official declaration of the results, saying it lacked documents to back the allegations of rigging. Israel Magesa, lawyer for Tanzania Labor Party candidate, Augustine Mrema, who had filed the petition, said that his client would not appeal the ruling.

A British diplomat based in Tanzania who acted as an election observer, Andrew Massey, said this year's elections were a "massive improvement" over 1995 and 2000 ballots and "generally reflected the will of the people." This year's election was Tanzania's third since the reintroduction of multiparty politics in 1992.

"The elections were peaceful except for a few violent incidents in Zanzibar. Voters exercised their rights," said Massey, who was a member of an international observer group coordinated by the U.N. that included diplomats from Britain, Botswana, France and Japan.

Makame said that Kikwete won 80.2 percent of Wednesday's vote, or 9,123,952 votes. Tanzania has 16,334,612 registered voters. The voter turnout was 72.2 percent, Makame said. Kikwete's nearest rival, Ibrahim Lipumba of the main opposition Civic United Front party, won 11.6 percent. Kikwete will replace Benjamin Mkapa, who has finished his two terms of five years that are allowed under Tanzania's constitution.

The Revolutionary Party won 206 seats out 232 that were up for grabs in parliamentary elections also held on Wednesday. The Civic United Front won 19 parliamentary seats, while three other parties shared the remaining seven seats, reports the AP. N.U.

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