Arusha. The East African Community (EAC) election observers have criticised Tanzania electoral bodies on the manner they handle disputed presidential election results.
EAC observer Mission to last year’s polls in the country challenged the provision that bars aggrieved parties from contesting election results at court once the electoral bodies officially announced them.
It emphasised during the handing over of the mission’s report to the EAC secretariat last week that the controversial presidential results in any election should not be immune to a challenge in court or other relevant platform.
“There is a need for the establishment of a mechanism for the management of disputes arising from the results of presidential elections which currently, once declared, are not contestable,” the report availed to The Citizen on Sunday says in part.
The Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) on Friday announced the re-run of the disputed General Election in the Isles on March 20, this year.
Chairman of the Zanzibar electoral body Jecha Salim Jecha annulled the October 25, 2015, poll results three days into counting and announcing of the outcome of the vote.
By then, the CUF presidential candidate, Mr Seif Sharrif Hamad, had already declared himself the winner of the presidential vote, attracting altercation from ZEC which is the only body mandated to make such announcement.
When announcing the re-run of the polls two days ago, Mr Jecha said the decision had been reached after a series of meetings with relevant bodies. He added that there would be no campaigns ahead of the exercise.
The controversial provision on presidential election results, which apply to both the Isles through the ZEC and the Union through the National Election Commission (NEC), has been highly contested.
A report released in Arusha mid last year by the Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa, a Kampala-based group advocating for democracy, called for removal of the immunity in the proposed constitution of Tanzania.
With Zanzibaries preparing themselves for another poll, which CUF has initially indicated it might boycott, the situation may remain the same as was last October, according to observers.
This is because no court can inquire into the election of a presidential candidate who has been declared by the commission to have been duly elected.
“The provision contradicts the role of the Judiciary. Courts should be allowed to hear and decide on disputes arising from presidential election results”, emphasised the report dubbed Election Management Bodies in East Africa which was presented before stakeholders from across the region.
The EAC Observer Mission also called on Tanzania to expeditiously restart the constitutional review process and subsequent enactment of relevant reforms of the institutional framework of the electoral management bodies with the aim of setting up independent entities.
In order to ease identification of eligible voter registrants, the government was urged to expedite the process of issuance of national identify cards.
NEC and ZEC were urged to improve the accuracy of the registers so as to minimise disenfranchisement of voters and to review the operational planning and logistics to ensure electoral materials are delivered in all polling stations on time.