DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) – Tanzanian police used teargas to disperse opposition supporters in the commercial capital on Monday as tension rose due to delays in releasing the results of Sunday’s presidential and parliamentary elections.
The protesters in Dar es Salaam were angry at the outcome of a council election run alongside Sunday’s national votes that are expected to give President Jakaya Kikwete another five years at the helm of east Africa’s second largest economy.
While opinion polls show his lead narrowed as his main opponent Willibrod Slaa of the Chadema party campaigned hard on an anti-corruption platform, analysts predict Kikwete’s pledge to keep fighting poverty should hand him a final term.
Members of the opposition said the delays were in areas where their candidates were likely to win parliamentary seats.
“The situation is tense … I have received reports that police have used teargas in Mwanza, Arusha and Dar es Salaam. People are restless because they want the results to be made public,” said Mwesiga Baregu, Chadema campaign manager.
“The situation is bad. We have reached a point where we might see bloodshed, just like what happened in Kenya when the election results were delayed.”
Violence erupted after Kenya’s 2007 election following delays in releasing results and accusations that the incumbent Mwai Kibkai had stolen the vote.
Police said they used water cannon and teargas to disperse the crowds outside a polling station in Dar es Salaam.
“Riot police were called in after crowds burnt tyres on the road and damaged at least one vehicle at Tandika area in Dar es Salaam,” Temeke Regional Police Commander David Miseme told reporters on Monday.
“At least 15 people were arrested. No injuries have been reported so far.”
Tanzania’s electoral authorities said they would issue more results on Tuesday after a handful were released giving Kikwete an early lead.
International observers said the poll was well-organised and well-conducted on the whole, but the East African Community’s election observer mission to Tanzania said it too was concerned by the delays in releasing of the poll results.
“It is very slow compared to other East African countries. It is taking too long, we don’t know the reasons,” Abdul Karim Harelimana, head of the EAC election observer mission to Tanzania told Reuters in Dar es Salaam.
Kikwete led with 66.94 percent of the vote while Slaa garnered 17.36 percent in 10 of the 239 constituencies where results have been released.
The results covered constituencies with a combined total of less than 60,000 votes among 19.6 million registered voters.