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Cablegate: Ccm Dominates Peaceful Local Elections

VZCZCXRO3872
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHDR #0825 3351121
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 011121Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY DAR ES SALAAM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9094
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEHJB/AMEMBASSY BUJUMBURA 3016
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 3553
RUEHLGB/AMEMBASSY KIGALI 1486
RUEHKI/AMEMBASSY KINSHASA 0337
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 1444

UNCLAS DAR ES SALAAM 000825

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR AF/E JTREADWELL, INR FEHRENREICH

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV TZ
SUBJECT: CCM DOMINATES PEACEFUL LOCAL ELECTIONS

1. SUMMARY AND COMMENT: In a prelude to the 2010 national
elections, on October 25 voters throughout mainland Tanzania
participated in local elections to select members of their village
and neighborhood councils. CCM, the ruling party, continued its
dominance of local politics by collecting roughly 90 percent of the
votes nationwide. A substantial proportion of races were
uncontested CCM victories, a sign that the main opposition parties
continue to lack the grassroots organization (and financial
resources) to compete nationally. While the elections were
generally peaceful, the process suffered from inefficiency and
disorganization. Low turnout suggests a combination of poor voter
education, apathy, and dissatisfaction with politics, all of which
are likely to feature in 2010. END SUMMARY AND COMMENT.

2. On October 25, voters in mainland Tanzania participated in local
(village and neighborhood) council elections. While village level
results have yet to be released, CCM, the ruling party, is reported
to have won 90 percent of nationwide votes. The main opposition
parties accounted for 7.1 percent (CUF) and 2.4 percent (CHADEMA).
In numerous areas, particularly rural and inland regions where CCM
has traditionally had its strongest support, CCM candidates ran
uncontested (Note: Where all candidates ran uncontested, balloting
was cancelled). Voter turnout was low; while accurate information
is unavailable, estimates of 25-50 percent participation by eligible
and registered voters have been reported, with lower turnout in
urban areas.

3. The Prime Minister's Office of Regional Affairs and Local
Government (PMO/RALG) orchestrated the polling in more than 70,000
stations across the country (Note: The National Electoral Commission
is responsible for the Union presidential and legislative
elections). Several observers commented that this local election
was the best organized since multiparty politics began.
Nonetheless, there were numerous reports of confusion and
inefficiency during the registration process and at polling
stations.

4. Emboffs, in election day visits to six polling stations in Dar es
Salaam, saw ample evidence of procedures that made voting difficult.
Many voters had difficulty identifying their proper polling
station, because some stations failed to post lists of registered
voters and others posted faint copies in no particular order. Some
stations opened hours late or had inadequate space for voters,
leading to long lines. Unlike in national elections, voters lacked
pre-printed ballots with candidates' names; instead, all ballots
were write-ins. While all polling stations posted the lists of
candidates, some were difficult to read. The write-in requirement
was a particular burden for illiterate voters; in some cases,
literate helpers were accused of improper influence. Voters had
little or no privacy. European observers also noted that a lack of
clear instructions to voters led to some ballots being placed in the
wrong box; during the counting, some election officials permitted
these ballots to be counted but others did not.

5. Although we saw numerous voters agitated by long lines, delays
and other organizational problems, reported incidents of violence or
other disturbances were few. Low turnout may have contributed to
the generally peaceful atmosphere, since larger numbers might have
overwhelmed poorly managed polling stations. Several opposition
parties complained that PMO/RALG's failure to release the names of
candidates well in advance was unfair to opposition candidates.
There were also some reports of PMO/RALG disqualifying opposition
candidates shortly before the election. Otherwise, there were no
allegations of tampering with the vote itself.

LENHARDT

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