Pressure mounts on ZEC to reverse decision on polls

Friday October 30 2015

 

By Syriacus Buguzi

Dar es Salaam. Pressure is mounting on the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) to reverse its decision to cancel elections held last Sunday.

Four observer missions yesterday jointly urged ZEC to specify the polling stations where most irregularities occurred and act accordingly to avoid putting peace and democracy in Zanzibar at stake.

“We urge the political leadership of Zanzibar to cast aside their differences, put the interest of the United Republic of Tanzania and Zanzibar first,’’ said the statement released by the Commonwealth Observer Group, the European Union, SADC as well as the African Union.

The call came barely a day after the United States government opposed the decision by ZEC to nullify the elections.

“The action halted an orderly and peaceful election, as evaluated by the observer mission groups,’’ the US Embassy in Dar es Salaam said in a statement.

The United Kingdom also expressed its concern over the situation in Zanzibar and called on ZEC to resume the compilation and announcement of election results, citing an interim report by international observers, who said they were generally satisfied with the electoral process in the Isles. “We call on ZEC to resume the results tabulation process without delay,’’ said a statement by the British High Commission in Dar es Salaam yesterday.

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ZEC chairman Jecha Salam Jecha announced on Wednesday that the elections on the Isles had been called off, citing irregularities and breach of the Zanzibar Constitution, including the decision by CUF candidate Seif Shariff Hamad to declare himself the winner.

However, international observers maintained yesterday that they were satisfied with the way the electoral process in Zanzibar was conducted and noted that even the voting and counting of results took place in an atmosphere of peace.

“We issued interim statements on 27 October, in which we all affirmed the credibility of the voting process,’’ said the observers.

“We expressed the hope that all stakeholders, in particular, the political leadership in Zanzibar, would await the conclusion of that process in the spirit of national unity, reconciliation, peace and stability.

The East African Community observer mission appealed to the leadership of the United Republic of Tanzania to step in and try to bring the situation in Zanzibar back to normalcy.

“The mission urges the political leadership of the United Republic of Tanzania to urgently address the situation for the sake of democracy and stability of the country,” the team said in a statement issued by its head, Mr Moody Awori. In another development, the United Nations congratulated President-elect of the United Republic of Tanzania, Dr John Pombe Magufuli, and said Tanzanians in general for voting peacefully.

However, the UN echoed concerns expressed by the international observers over the crisis in Zanzibar following the cancellation of the elections.

“We call on political leaders to promote an environment of peaceful dialogue to resolve their differences and to ensure a continued peaceful and democratic elections process. It is through this peaceful and democratic process that the social and economic development of the United Republic of Tanzania can be ensured,” the UN said in a statement.

The Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRAGG) also issued a statement asking Mr Jecha to reconsider his decision to nullify the elections, saying all irregularities cited could be worked on amicably. In a press statement signed by CHRAGG chairman Bahame Nyanduga, the commission advised all parties involved to stick to laws governing elections.