DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (AP) — Tanzania's ruling party has won the country's presidential election, defeating an opposition alliance that had hoped to end the party's five-decade grip on power, the country's election commission announced on Thursday.
John Magufuli, the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (Revolutionary Party) candidate, won with 58 percent of the votes cast. Edward Lowassa of the Chadema party and who was also backed by three other parties, got 40 percent of votes, said Damian Lubuva, the head of the election commission. He made the announcement in Tanzania's commercial capital, Dar es Salaam.
Magufuli has been serving as public works minister in the government of the outgoing president, Jakaya Kikwete. Lowassa, who served as prime minister from 2005 to 2008, used to belong to the ruling party but defected after failing to become its presidential candidate.
Both candidates drew crowds during campaigns across the country and it was the country's closest election.
Lowassa said Wednesday he is disputing some results and wants a recount, and accused the election commission of posting some false results in favor of Magufuli.
The semi-autonomous island archipelago of Zanzibar also voted for its own president and other local leaders, but the results were nullified Wednesday over allegations of voting irregularities. The opposition Civic United Front had claimed victory in Zanzibar's presidential election.
International observers said in a joint statement Thursday they were concerned by the decision to annul the Zanzibar results after what they said was a credible election.
"Democracy, peace and unity in Zanzibar is at stake," the statement said.
Tanzania was formed when Zanzibar and Pemba island united with mainland Tanganyika in April 1964, three months after the islands' black majority overthrew the traditional Arab rulers. For years, many have felt that Zanzibar, and its ancient capital, Stone Town, have been relegated to second-class status.