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Tanzanian opposition leader rejects presidential election

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Voting day in Tanzania “bulldozer” Magufuli vying for a second term

Voter casts her ballot during the presidential and parliamentary elections at the Ukombozi primary school in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, October 28, 2020.

Tundu Lissu of the CHADEMA party also appeared to warn of unrest: "Those in power are telling Tanzanians, 'If you want change, look for it another way, not through the ballot box, not through democracy, '" he told reporters Thursday.

Tanzania Elections Watch, a regional group of eminent persons, expressed concerns about the credibility and conduct of the election, noting deadly violence on the eve of the vote in Zanzibar, a massive disruption in internet and text messaging services and the reported arrests of other candidates on election day.

The elections have attracted 15 presidential candidates from 15 political parties, but the race is tight between incumbent President John Magufuli of the ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi and Tundu Lissu from leading opposition Chama Cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo. But Mr Lissu said the "election should not be given any form of legitimacy by the global community".

Tanzania, formerly praised because of its comparative peace and its peacemaking efforts in Africa, has come to be a human rights catastrophe since diplomats, the United Nations human rights division and many others say the authorities under President John Magufuli has social networking, civil society and opposition.

"We are finalising together with the political party agents and will start counting immediately", polling clerk Phinias Masiga told AFP in Dodoma after voting ended.

Long deemed a haven of stability in East Africa, local and global observers say Tanzania has seen a worrying crackdown on the opposition and freedom of speech under President Magufuli. "The agent was ejected from the polling station and the man allowed to vote".

Zanzibar voted under heavy security.

"This election is a total mess, there is no election here", Jiba Shaame Ali, 32, told AFP at a polling station in the Mtoni area. CHADEMA accused ruling party supporters of shooting dead two people at a rally Tuesday in a town in the northeast.

More than 29 million people are registered to vote out of 58 million citizens.

Twitter is also down and can only be accessed via VPN. "I believe justice will prevail".

60-year-old Magufuli, known as "The Bulldozer", has won the people's approval for strengthening the economy, reduce wasteful public spending and pursue large-scale development projects.

"Whatever happened yesterday was not an election, and thus we do not recognise it".

Despite his initial popularity, Mr Magufuli's flouting of due process and intolerance of dissent has sparked alarm among rights groups and foreign allies.

His main challenger in a field of 15 presidential candidates is 52-year-old Tundu Lissu, who returned to Tanzania in July after three years overseas recovering from 16 bullet wounds sustained in what he believes was a politically-motivated assassination attempt.

Lissu, 52, returned to Tanzania in July after three years overseas recovering from 16 bullet wounds sustained in what he believes was a politically motivated assassination attempt. General elections are taking place in the country today.

Tanzania stopped giving out official data on infections in April and Mr Magufuli has declared the country COVID-free, which he attributes to the power of prayer.

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