The man widely expected to win Wednesday's presidential elections in Tanzania collapsed while addressing thousands of supporters on the last day of campaigning Tuesday. Foreign Minister Jakaya Kikwete, presidential candidate for the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi, or Revolutionary Party, fell off the stage and was immediately surrounded by security officers who took him to a hospital.
There was no immediate word on his condition. His wife was seen wailing at the scene in Tanzania's commercial capital, Dar es Salaam. President Benjamin Mkapa, who is constitutionally barred from running for a third term in office, stepped in to address the crowd, saying that Kikwete was simply exhausted at the end of a grueling campaign across East Africa's largest nation. State-run radio and television abruptly ended live broadcasts of the rally after Kikwete collapsed. Kikwete has been expected to be elected Tanzania's fourth president since its 1961 independence from Britain. Shortly after he was nominated to run for president, Kikwete publicly dismissed rumors that he was infected with HIV, virus that causes AIDS. He said his doctors have certified that he was in good health.
The ruling party was expected to lose seats in parliamentary elections to opposition parties that sought to capitalize on public anger over allegations of corruption that denied popular candidates nomination on the ruling party's ticket. The opposition has also mounted a spirited campaign, using helicopters and cell phones' short text messaging.
Voters are also unhappy with the ruling party's failure to curb growing unemployment and inability to ensure that economic growth translates to better living conditions for the majority of Tanzania's 38 million people. Opposition parties currently hold 34 seats in the 295-seat National Assembly. Eighteen political parties were on the ballot for Wednesday's elections. The vote had been scheduled for Oct. 30, but was postponed because of the death of a vice presidential candidate from an opposition party, reports the AP. N.U.