Tanzanians started voting in general elections, with President John Magufuli’s party likely to extend its decades-long rule on the country that’s one of Africa’s top four gold producers.
Magufuli, 61, whose Chama Cha Mapinduzi has governed for more than half a century, is seeking a second five-year term to continue major infrastructure works, including an expansion of Tanzania’s road and rail networks. His main challenger, Tundu Lissu, is a 52-year-old human rights lawyer and fierce critic of recent curbs on freedom of expression.
Lissu’s return from self-imposed exile in Europe earlier this year as candidate of the Chadema party has rallied opposition supporters.
Elected in 2015 on a groundswell of domestic support for his pledge to fight corruption, Magufuli is facing mounting criticism from foreign diplomats and non-governmental organisations for
his government’s repressive stance on public dissent. Magufuli has dismissed allegations that he’s curtailing rights, labeling opposition figures as “puppets of imperialism.”
Magufuli has earned praise for scrapping farmers’ taxes and farm-gate fees in the largely agrarian nation of about 60 million people.