Zanzibar crisis: No solution in sight

Sunday November 8 2015

Civic United Front (CUF) Secretary General and

Civic United Front (CUF) Secretary General and Zanzibar Fist Vice President Seif Sharif Hamad shakes hands with party’s deputy secretary general (Mainland) Magdalena Sakaya, deputy secretary general (Zanzibar) Nassor Ahmed Mazuri (fourth) and other members of the outfit’s Supreme Council before starting a council meeting held in Zanzibar yesterday. PHOTO | ZFVPO 

By Hassan Ali

Zanzibar. There was no breakthrough on the Zanzibar political impasse by yesterday as the Civic United Front (CUF) SupremeCouncil insisted that the party would not go back to the polls.

It reiterating its call on the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) to announce the winner of the October 25 General Election.

The Council, which held its meeting under party’s acting chairman Twaha Taslima yesterday also concurred by the efforts by their secretary general, who was also CUF Zanzibar presidential candidate, Mr Seif Sharif Hamad, to seek a lasting solution for the Zanzibar political crisis. According to CUF deputy secretary general Nassor Ahmed Mazrui, the Council insisted that the only way out of the political crisis was for ZEC chairman Jecha Salum Jecha to announce the winner of the elections. But until yesterday ZEC remained tight lipped on the matter. Last week, the Zanzibar electoral body announced the nullification of elections in the archipelago saying the polls held on October 25 were faced with irregularities.

Mr Jecha said the elections were nullified following breach of electoral laws and regulations. The Council also accused the ruling CCM of doing everything in its power to cling on to leadership despite the fact that the Zanzibar presidential tenure has already expired.

Early this week, former President Jakaya Kikwete held talks with Mr Hamad aimed at resolving the crisis but the outcome of the talks remained unknown. Only little came out of the meeting to the effect that Mr Hamad had agreed that the parties in the crisis should continue with consultations.

“We are not ready for an election re-run because the people of Zanzibar had already decided. ZEC should let the will of the people prevail by announcing the results,” said Mr Mazrui.

During the meeting, which lasted for over an hour, President Kikwete, who is also CCM chairman, and Mr Hamad, agreed that parties which are involved in the crisis should continue with negotiations.

However, Mr Mazrui said Mr Hamad’s meeting with members of diplomatic corps were successful saying the international community has been pressuring ZEC to announce the results of the elections.

According to Mr Mazrui CUF secretary general held a talk with a number of diplomatic corps earlier this week at the Canada High Commission in in the Mainland.

On separate occasions the UK and the US through their diplomatic missions in Tanzania called on ZEC to resume the tabulation 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.

In his congratulatory remarks to President John Magufuli US president through secretary of state John Kerry said the United States, continues to be gravely alarmed by the announcement by Zanzibar authorities that they intend to nullify the just ended October 25 presidential election.

“We strongly urge Tanzania’s new administration to ensure that the will of the Zanzibari people is reflected in the prompt, fair and peaceful conclusion of the electoral process in Zanzibar,’’ he said.

The Isles has been engulfed in a political crisis since Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) chairman Jecha Salum Jecha announced the annulment of the elections, citing irregularities and breach of the Zanzibar Constitution, including Mr Hamad’s decision to declare himself winner.

Last Tuesday presidential aspirants from six opposition parties in Zanzibar wrote to the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon asking him to help solve the political crisis in the Isles. The parties – Makini, Jahazi Asilia, Chauma, SAU, DP and NRA – informed the UN chief that they were not satisfied with the decision by ZEC to annul the October 25 General Election while tallying of the results was halfway. They pleaded with Mr Ban to intervene in a bid to end the crisis which they fear could get out of hand if not sorted out urgently.