Tanzania sets general election for 25 October

Nation will select new president and parliament

Presidential and parliamentary elections in Tanzania have been set for 25 October, according to a statement by the National Electoral Commission (NEC) on 25 May.

The announcement has ended speculation that the election – which until now had been scheduled tentatively for late October – would be postponed. It has also scotched rumours that the incumbent president Jakaya Kikwete would attempt to remain in power at the end of his second five-year term of office despite being barred by the constitution from running a third time.

Kikwete's ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) dominates Tanzanian politics and a CCM candidate would be expected to win the presidency which is won by simple majority.

The CCM party's front-runners for presidential candidates so far include incumbent premier Mizengo Pinda, who has been in office since 2008, and Edward Lowassa, who served as prime minister under Kikwete from 2005 to 2008.

CCM politicians who wish to run for president must have the backing of at least 450 party members.

The country's main opposition parties have pledged to unite behind a single presidential candidate, however political commentators believe that the plan could be problematic due to in-fighting and policy differences. Opposition leaders also claim the elections could be delayed by the slow pace of the country's ongoing biometric voter registration process.

Meanwhile a separate constitutional referendum which was due to be held on 30 April was suspended indefintely at the last minute by the electoral commission. A new date for the referendum is expected to be announced once voter registration is finished.

Some of the proposed changes to the 1977 constitution include the creation of an independent electoral commission, the right to challenge election results, limits to the number of ministers appointed by the president, 50/50 per cent representation of men and women in parliament and equal land rights for women.

The are 232 seats in the country’s 323 unicameral parliament, or Bunge, up for grabs in the parliamentary election on 25 October. There are also 75 seats reserved for women, five for Zanzibar, ten to be appointed by the president and the remaining seat is reserved for the attorney general.

The national electoral body will publish the lists of candidates for the parliamentary and presidential elections on 21 August, and campaigning will run from 22 August until 24 October.

Elections have been relatively peaceful in Tanzania since the restoration of the multi-party system in 1992, and the CCM has won the past four general elections in 1995, 2000, 2005 and 2010.