Dar-Es-Salaam — Tanzania's National Electoral Commission (NEC) has declared Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) presidential candidate Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete winner of last Wednesday's presidential elections. And 13 African heads of state are attending Kikwete's swearing-in ceremony today.
At a press briefing at the Diamond Jubilee Hall in Dar-Es-Salaam yesterday, NEC chairman judge Lewis Makame declared Kikwete the winner and would today be sworn-in as Tanzania's fourth President by Chief Justice Barnabas Samata at the National Stadium.
With the declaration by the NEC of the winner of the presidential race, losing opposition leader Augustine Mrema's petition of the results now remains merely academic.
On Monday, Mrema petitioned the High Court in Dar-Es-Salaam to stop the NEC from declaring the winner of the presidential elections until the case in which he is challenging the results was heard.
Mrema, who stood on the ticket of his Tanzania Labour Party (TLP), got 84,901 against Kikwete's 9,123,952 in the final results. Mrema is challenging the validity of the election results, saying he has proof of malpractices in some polling centres. Kikwete, 55, has won 80.28 per cent of the overall votes cast in last week's general elections.
Mrema was also asking the High Court to form a neutral commission to investigate the entire polling system countrywide. Mrema is at fourth position in the final presidential election results. He was one of the losing presidential candidates who did not attend yesterday's function where Kikwete was declared winner. A former prime minister under Hassan Mwinyi, Mrema has been participating in presidential elections since the introduction of multiparty politics in 1995.
In officially declaring him winner yesterday, judge Makame said Kikwete polled 9,123,952 votes of the total 11,365,477 valid votes. By amassing 80.28 per cent of the votes, Kikwete has by far beaten all his opponents with a wide margin, with his nearest rival Professor Ibrahim Lipumba of the main opposition Civic United Front (CUF) managing 1,327,125 (11.68 per cent) votes only. Prof Lipumba was also the runner-up to outgoing President Benjamin Mkapa in the 2000 elections.
Chadema's Freeman Mbowe, who became famous for campaigning by flying using a helicopter, came third with 668,756 (5.9 per cent) votes while Mrema got 84,901 (0.75 per cent). Dr Sengondo Mvungi of the NCCR-Mageuzi got 55,819 (0.43 per cent), Rev Christopher Mtikila of the Democratic Party with 31,083 (0.27 per cent) while Emmanuel Makaidi of the National League for Democracy got 21,574 (0.19 per cent) votes.
The only female candidate, Anna Claudia Senkoro, of the PPT-Maendelo party, collected 18,783 (0.17 per cent). Professor Leonard Shayo of Demokrasia Makini (Swahili for Keen Democracy) got 17,070 (0.15 per cent) while Paul Kyara of Sauti Ya Umma "People's Voice" got 16,414 (0.14 per cent) votes. Judge Makame disclosed that of the 16,401,694 registered voters, a total of 11,873,927 people cast their votes. He said a total of 510,440 were declared spoilt votes.
In parliamentary elections, the CCM won 206 of the 232 seats, leaving the opposition with only 26 seats. Kikwete, his predecessor Mkapa and his deputy, the country's Chief Justice and the Speaker of the National Assembly as well as several cabinet ministers were in attendance at the CCM dominated event.
Three losing presidential candidates, Mbowe, Kyara and Senkoro attended the ceremony where they conceded defeat and shook hands with Kikwete to congratulate him on his victory. Foreign and local election observers were also present.
Meanwhile, 13 African leaders, including Zambia's President Levy Mwanawasa have confirmed their attendance at today's swearing-in ceremony, which starts at 08:00 hours local time.
And according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation here, the 13 leaders who have confirmed their attendance at today's inauguration ceremony are from South Africa, Uganda, Mozambique, Burundi, Sudan, Rwanda, Comoros, Lesotho, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Botswana and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
President Mwanawasa was expected to arrive yesterday at about 18:00 hours local time. Kikwete, until now the foreign affairs minister of Tanzania, will take over from Mkapa who has completed his constitutional two-term mandate after being in power for ten years.
Mkapa took over from Ali Hassan Mwinyi in 1995 who had earlier in 1985 become Tanzania's second president after the retirement of founding president Mwalimu Julius Nyerere. The late Nyerere led Tanzania from 1961 until 1985. Since 1961, the CCM has held power in this East African nation.