Interview: Tanzanian general elections important to Africa: SADC observer team leader

10:00, November 01, 2010      

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Leader of Southern African Development Community (SADC) observer mission Kabinga Pande on Sunday lauded the voting process of Tanzanian general elections, stressing its importance not only to Tanzania, but to SADC, as well as to Africa.

Pande made the remarks in an exclusive interview with Xinhua on Sunday at Msoga village in Bagamoyo district in Pwani region, some 110 km west to Dar es Salaam, which is Tanzania's ruling revolutionary party Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) union presidential candidate and incumbent President Jakaya Kikwete's hometown.

Asked about his comment on the voting process, Pande, who is also Minister of Foreign Affairs of Zambia, said that "So far up to this time, I'm quite impressed in the manner that the election are being conducted and the voting is going on. So it's so orderly, very peaceful. People are coming in, vote one by one. "

He expressed his satisfaction with the voting process, noting that "I am quite happy as the SADC leader of observer team. I hope this is taking place in many other areas."

Regarding the importance of the Tanzanian general elections, Pande said "it's very very important, not only to Tanzania, but to SADC, as well as to Africa, because we are talking about democratic principles and democratizing all other areas and all countries becoming democratic." "This is a process of democratization of the election process. So it's very important to allow the Tanzanians to elect a leader or leaders of their own choice, without intimidation, without anything. This is what we are seeing that as people are getting in, there is no intimidation of any kind. So people are moving in to vote on their own. So it's a very very important election."

Voters started to cast the ballots at the polling stations from 7 a.m. local time (0400 GMT) and the polling stations were closed at 4 p.m. local time (1300 GMT).

President Kikwete had expressed his confidence to win another five-year presidential term as he assumed office in December 2005.

The final result of the general elections are expected to be announced on Nov. 2 or Nov. 3. The number of eligible voters in Sunday's general elections reached about 19.67 million and about 51,380 polling centers were set up, according to the Tanzanian National Electoral Commission.

In Tanzania's Indian Ocean archipelago Zanzibar which has about 400,000 eligible voters, ballots were also cast on Sunday to choose leaders of Government of National Unity in Zanzibar, which is aimed at preventing election-related violence.

Tanzania is considered Africa's most politically stable country, where CCM has been in power for the past 49 years and there have been four successive transfers of power.

The local, legislative and presidential polls on Oct. 31 are the country's fourth since the re-introduction of multi-party politics in 1992 in the east African country with the current population of more than 40 million.

Source: Xinhua


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