DAR-ES-SALAAM. – There is no end in sight to the political problems afflicting Zanzibar, the Tanzanian archipelago that was thrust into predicament following a chaotic election. Months after the shambles, and ongoing negotiations, the country’s political landscape is on a knife edge as rivals still spat over the authentic winner of the election, religious groups are divided over the decision by the opposition to boycott a poll rerun and envoys accredited to Tanzania warning such tensions could spark a civil strife.
Last October, coinciding with polls in mainland Tanzania, semi-autonomous Zanzibar held polls to elects its own President and members to its sub-national legislature but commotion characterised resulting in an annulment.
Electoral authorities reported youths invaded polling stations with a view of causing chaos, some party agents were thrown out of polling stations, votes were tampered with, and electoral commissioners exchanged blows because of differences among themselves.
It was the first time in the history of Zanzibar, with a population of 1,3 million, that an election has been scrapped-sparking a predicament. In the middle of the confusion, Seif Sharif Hamad, the candidate of the opposition Civic United Front (CUF), declared himself the winner, claiming
200 077 votes against 178 363 for the incumbent Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) candidate, Ali Mohamed Shein, which would be the first ever defeat for the ruling party in the island’s presidential elections.
The tensions have been assuming new dimensions lately with Shein declaring he was still President. His rival insists Shein’s mandate expired on November 2. There are strong indications by the main opposition party it would not contest an election re-run the Zanzibar Electoral Commission has rescheduled for March 20.
The High Commissioners and Ambassadors from some European countries to Tanzania have recently met in the East African country to express concern over the developments. Among these envoys were from Belgium, Canada, Denmark, the European Union, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.
They reiterated concern with the ZEC’s decision to annul the election without providing evidence to substantiate its claim that irregularities had taken place.
“We regret that an election re-run was announced, while a dialogue between parties was still ongoing. For the benefit of all Tanzanians, we reaffirm our belief that the current political impasse in Zanzibar would be best addressed through a mutually acceptable and negotiated solution.” – CAJ News