Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Historic Tanzanian Elections

Today in major urban centers across Tanzania an historic political revolution is being vocally celebrated. The results of yesterday’s election were announced to waiting crowds in the capital Dar Es Salam, major tourist centers such as Moshi and Arusha, and other cities such as Musoma, revealing that these cities will send members of the young opposition party Chadema to parliament. This news represents the first cracks in the hold of the ruling party CCM, which has held nearly 100% of major government positions since independence in 1964. Campaigning was especially heated in Arusha, where no opposition party had ever gained a foothold. In front of City Hall growing crowds waited through the night without sleep, encouraging each other by screaming the Chadema campaign chants of “People’s Power” and “Cha-de-ma!” Some were angry at the wait; while other cities had announced results in the morning, the eager crowds in Arusha were left to wait until late into the afternoon. “They must tell us! They must give us power!” said one. “If not it will be like Kenya as soon as possible!” alluring to the political turmoil that resulting from a disputed election in December 2008 in Kenya. But most were peaceful, consistent with a country that has seen little political violence in its history. “If they are not honest, what can we do?” said another. “We are not here to fight, but we want the truth.” Still a strong police present was very visible, fitting the atmosphere of uncertainty and possible change. When the results of Arusha’s parliamentary election were announced in favor of Chadema’s candidate, Godbless Lema, the crowds exploded into dancing and screaming. The police used hoses and army jeeps to control the crowds, but both sides remained amiable. Within minutes crowds were choking traffic in all major streets in the city center and celebrating vocally. The national results are less dramatic. CCM’s president, Kikwete, will remain as head of state, and the ruling party will maintain majority control over all major institutions. “It’s the first step, for Chadema,” said a member of the dancing crowd who was proud to be a supporter of Chadema since its humble beginnings. “This is the first time we can win! In next election, in five years, we will see what bigger change we can make! It’s time for a change in Tanzania. Today we can start it!” Pictures:

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