Tanzanian opposition candidate Tundu Lissu rejected the results of the presidential election on Thursday, October 29, calling the polls a fraud. Lissu called on his supporters to "take matters into their own hands" and to participate in peaceful demonstrations. Preliminary results show incumbent President John Magufuli ahead as polling stations continue to announce results. Other opposition figures have called on Tanzanians to participate in demonstrations and for other countries to reject the election result amid irregularities in results and the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi party winning a large number of seats in parliament. Protests over the polls have been reported in Zanzibar in recent days, where voting commenced on Tuesday, October 27, with at least nine people killed on Tuesday.
Access to social media, particularly messaging services, was reportedly disrupted across Tanzania on October 27, as early voting began in the country's general election. Multiple users reported that they have been unable to access Twitter from the country without the use of a virtual private network (VPN) since Tuesday morning, whilst the messaging service WhatsApp was restricted to text messages, with users unable to download image or video files. Internet monitoring organizations later stated that access to Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram, and some Google services, including Gmail, was partially or completely unavailable on all of Tanzania's major mobile data network providers, including Vodacom, Airtel, Tigo, Halotel, and ZanTel.
Protests over the election results are likely in Tanzania over the near term. Clashes between security forces and protesters cannot be ruled out.
President John Magufuli and the CCM are widely expected to win the general election on Wednesday, with the opposition being weakened by restrictive laws, internal divisions, and intimidation and harassment from the current government. However, elections in Tanzania have previously been marred by violence and unrest, particularly in opposition strongholds and on Zanzibar, and there is a realistic possibility that these areas will become increasingly volatile during and immediately following election day.
Those in Tanzania are advised to monitor developments regarding communications service disruptions and should review communications and business continuity plans in light of the outages.
Those in the country are further advised to remain apprised of the political situation, avoid all public demonstrations and election-related events as a precaution, avoid discussing politically-sensitive topics in public or on social media, and heed all directives issued by the local authorities. Travelers should exercise increased vigilance on election day and in the following days and minimize time spent in the vicinity of polling stations and political party offices, particularly during the announcement of results.
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