Call for reversal of annulment
The international election observer groups in Tanzania comprising the Commonwealth, European Union, African Union and the Southern African Development Community on Thursday expressed concern over last Wednesday’s cancellation of Zanzibar’s presidential polls, warning that the development could endanger peace and unity in the semi-independent island.
In a statement jointly issued on Thursday in Dar es Salaam, the four international observer groups described the nullification of the elections as unfortunate and therefore urged the leaders of both Tanzania and Zanzibar to quickly resolve the stalemate.
The United States embassy in Tanzania also said it was “gravely alarmed” at the annulment of the Zanzibar presidential polls, after what it described as “an orderly and peaceful election.”
In a statement, US officials called for the action to be withdrawn and urged “all parties to maintain a commitment to a transparent and peaceful democratic process.”
The Zanzibar Electoral Commission Chairman, Jecha Salum Jecha, had last Wednesday suspended an ongoing results declaration and announced a surprise nullification of the Zanzibar elections, citing breach of electoral laws and processes. This happened despite opposition claims of victory, a development likely to exacerbate the growing political crisis in the Island.
The cancellation came as a surprise to all stakeholders especially after both the local and international observers had issued interim statements on 27 October, declaring that the voting processes in both Zanzibar and across Tanzania were credible and transparent.
In yesterday’s joint statement, the observers reiterated their belief in the transparency of the cancelled elections, stressing that they “had commended the National Electoral Commission and the Zanzibar Electoral Commission for the competent and largely efficient manner in which they managed the electoral process on election day.
It further said: “Our overall assessment of the voting and counting process at the polling stations, based on all our observations, was that it was conducted in a generally peaceful and organised manner according to the procedures outlined in the laws of the United Republic of Tanzania and the laws of Zanzibar. We stand by this assessment.
“We were conscious that the tabulation of results process was yet to conclude. We expressed the hope that all stakeholders, particularly the political leadership in Zanzibar, would await the conclusion of that process in the spirit of national unity, reconciliation, peace and stability.
“We now respectfully request the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) to specify in which polling stations there were irregularities. We appeal to the ZEC to act with full transparency in its decision to nullify the elections. We urge the political leadership of Zanzibar to cast aside their differences, put the interest of the United Republic of Tanzania and Zanzibar first, and come together to find a speedy resolution to the issues that have led to this unfortunate development.
“Democracy, peace and unity in Zanzibar are at stake. The 2010 elections in Zanzibar ushered in a government of national unity which gave the people of Zanzibar hope for sustainable peace and democracy.
“We urgently call on the leadership of Zanzibar, the United Republic of Tanzania, the ZEC, NEC and all stakeholders to live up to the expectations of the people.”
Source: This day live