Tanzanian President John Magufuli said Wednesday he would seek re-election in October, after a first term marked by accusations of narrowing freedoms and growing authoritarianism.
Magufuli, who was elected in 2015, picked up nomination forms to start his bid to be chosen as his party’s candidate, as he comes under mounting criticism for allegedly covering up his country’s coronavirus epidemic.
“I came here to pick up nomination forms from my party and practice this democratic process in our country. We have a responsibility to sell our manifesto for 2020-25,” Magufuli said at the ruling party’s headquarters in the capital Dodoma.
“I ask my fellow Tanzanians to continue praying for me as I embark on another heavy and difficult journey which requires God’s will to complete it,” he added.
A devout Christian, Magufuli has assured the country that prayer has spared it from the worst of the coronavirus, and compared with other nations few measures were taken to prevent its spread.
Tanzania last revealed its number of official cases on April 29, and the US has raised the alarm about the lack of data and “exponential growth” of the virus, even as the government insists the situation is under control.
This week Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa told parliament that there were only 66 patients still in hospital.
Magufuli on Tuesday dissolved the country’s parliament to allow for scheduled elections in October.
He pledged a “free and fair” vote in a country where the opposition has decried a climate of fear and violence.
The exact date for the ballot has yet to be set.