Dar es Salaam. President Jakaya Kikwete has directed his office to facilitate a meeting between Civic United Front (CUF) officials and the Chief of the Defence Forces, General Davis Mwamunyange, over the Zanzibar crisis.
The President's directive has come following complaints by the opposition party’s secretary general Mr Seif Shariff Hamad about the actions of a section of the police force in Zanzibar.
According to a statement from the State House in Dar es Salaam, President Kikwete agreed to facilitate a conversation between his party and General Mwamunyange.
Furthermore, the Head of State instructed the Inspector General of Police Ernest Mangu to investigate the claims by CUF of police behaviour, and that the outcome of the talks should be reported back to him.
The CUF supremo who was running for the presidency had declared himself winner before ZEC Chairman Jecha Salim Jecha cancelled the outcome altogether over what he termed widespread irregularities.
Mr Jecha indicated a repeat election would be held but his move has been vigorously opposed locally and internationally.
CUF has suggested elements within the government and state security establishment were behind the decision to overturn the elections outcome and have vowed to pursue all means to protest the democratic right of those who voted on October 25.
Mr Hamad has called on President Kikwete and the Zanzibar President Dr Ali mohammed Shein to intervene on the stalemate to avoid the possibility that the country could slide into a constitutional crisis or civil strife.
President Kikwete, according to the official statement, pledged personal involvement on the matter to find a lasting solution, even though noting that the matter of the election still lay with election authorities in Zanzibar.
“The State House would like to categorically deny that it has received any request from Mr Hamad for him to meet President Kikwete since voting day in Zanzibar on Sunday and subsequent nullification of the election process in Zanzibar by the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) Chairman Jecha Salim Jecha on Wednesday,” reads the statement in part.
Zanzibar plunged into a state of constitutional uncertainty on Wednesday when Mr Jecha announced the decision to annul the election results midway in tallying. Mr Jecha has since been acccused by fellow commissioners of taking a unilateral decision that was illegal when results from 31 out of 54 constituencies had been declared.
The move has not only been opposed by CUF but has also attracted wide criticism from the Zanzibar and Tanganyika law societies whose respective presidents argued it was against the law and could potentially throw Zanzibar and the United Republic of Tanzania into a consitutional coup. They have called for an investigation into Jecha’s behaviour.
International observers and the UN also weighed in and supported the calls to resume tallying and announcement of the winner in the elections. Those that have condemned the action includes the UN, Common Wealth, EU, EAC, US and UK. They have warned that the nullification of the election was unwarranted and a gross abuse on a peaceful democratic process.
Mr Hamad had earlier issued an ultimatum on Sunday for ZEC to reverse its decision or he would let the party’s supporters demand the results as they deemed fit. This has been viewed in some quarters as a precursor to violence.