DODOMA, Tanzania (SAT) — Tanzania’s populist President John Magufuli took the oath of office for a second five-year term amid tight security Thursday after the opposition called for a fresh election, the disbandment of the electoral commission and an “endless peaceful demonstration” over the Oct. 28 vote.
Magufuli over the weekend said he will not pursue another term amid some concerns that the ruling party, which won nearly all parliament seats, might try to extend the presidency’s two-term limit.
Police and the army tightened security ahead of the swearing-in, and the leaders of Tanzania’s two main opposition parties, ACT Wazalendo and CHADEMA, were charged with organizing unlawful assembly and demonstration.
The opposition asserts that the election was riddled with irregularities, and the United States and others have noted credible allegations that call the vote’s results — and the East African country’s democratic ideals — into question.
However, the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation Chairperson, President Mokgweetsi Masisi of Botswana on Monday congratulated “all political parties/candidates and encouraged them to consolidate the gains made in the democratic space since the advent of multiparty elections in the country.”
“Following the general elections held on 28 October 2020, SADC applauds the people of the United Republic of Tanzania for once again demonstrating their commitment to democracy by exercising their right to vote in a calm and tranquil manner.”
He called upon Magufuli’s government to “closely engage all actors in democracy, governance and politics with a view to implement reforms aimed at improving political engagement and sustain democracy within the United Republic of Tanzania.”
In his short address, Magufuli promised to fulfil campaign pledges including enhancing the lower-middle-income economy and creating new employment, especially for youth: “We are aware of the trust and responsibilities ahead.”
Magufuli also promised to complete strategic projects including the huge but controversial Stiegler’s Gorge hydropower project in Tanzania’s largest wildlife reserve and UNESCO World Heritage Site.