More than a dozen candidates vie for presidency in Tanzania election

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Oct. 28 (UPI) — Tanzania opened polls on Wednesday in a presidential election that’s viewed by many as a referendum on the leadership of President John Magufuli.

Nearly 30 million people are registered to vote in the election, six million more than when Magufuli was first elected five years ago.

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Magufuli, whose party has led Tanzania politics since independence in 1961, is seeking a second term.

Known as “the Bulldozer,” Magufuli won election in 2015 on an anti-corruption campaign. Supporters have credited him with improving the economy, cutting government spending and beginning needed infrastructure work.

Prominent opposition figure Tundu Lissu, of the Chadema Party, is the primary challenger. On Wednesday, he accused Magufuli’s government of trying to interfere in the election.

“Voting reports indicate widespread irregularities in the form of preventing our polling agents from accessing polling stations,” Lissu tweeted. “Stuffed ballot boxes seized in Kawe, Dar. If this continues, mass democratic action will be the only option to protect the integrity of the election.”

Indeed, Twitter said Tuesday it found unusual activity on the platform ahead of the election.

“Internet shutdowns are hugely harmful, and violate basic human rights,” it said.

“Widespread disruption to social media registered across Tanzania on eve of elections; high impact to Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram and Google services,” Internet watchdog Netblocks.org added.

In all, 15 candidates are running for president, including former foreign minister Bernard Membe, who’s also criticized Magufuli’s leadership.