Tensions on the rise as Z’bar braces for elections re-run

10Feb 2016
David Kisanga
The Guardian
Tensions on the rise as Z’bar braces for elections re-run

WITH only 40 days to go before the scheduled re-run of Zanzibar’s general election, local authorities have raised the alarm over increasing political tensions among residents as leaflets and video clips containing hate messages continue to increase in circulation across the Isles.

Maalim Seif Sharif Hamad

Speaking to reporters here yesterday, Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) Salum Msangi said the leaflets titled ‘One Day Yes’ appeared to be urging people not to vote and inciting them to engage in acts of violence before and during the polls.

He said the leaflets have been spreading in different parts of Zanzibar since the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) chairman Jecha Salim Jecha announced March 20 as the date for the elections rerun.

He also said a number of houses belonging to members of one political party had mysteriously been marked ‘X’, a symbol normally used to signal intent to demolish or otherwise remove unwanted structures.

“We (police) believe the aim here is to plant seeds of destability in Zanzibar. We can’t ignore these threats,” Msangi stated.
According to the DCI, law enforcement officers were conducting a day-and-night investigation with the aim of capturing all the culprits behind the leaflets distribution and house X-marking and arraigning them in court as soon as possible.

“We have learnt that they can be better spotted at night…our officers are now piercing the evidence together and soon we will start making the necessary arrests,” he said.

Last month, the opposition Civic United Front (CUF) party declared that it would not take part in the Isles presidential election rerun because it didn’t believe it would be free and fair.

The CUF Supreme Council - the party’s topmost decision-making organ - announced the no-participation decision following a meeting of the party’s governing council held behind closed doors at the party’s headquarters in Dar es Salaam.

The CUF acting chairman Twaha Taslima later told reporters that after the internal meetings, the party’s top officials agreed that the re-run poll was “likely to lead to chaos”.

“We have therefore chosen to stay out it, to not be involved at all,” Taslima said. He asserted that two key decisions made by the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) - to nullify the October 25, 2015 original election results, and to then unilaterally announce a rerun date – were both violations of national law.

CUF secretary general Seif Shariff Hamad also supported the party’s decision to stay away from the polls rerun, saying it had been well thought-out and was spurred by good intentions.

“There is no need for us to take part in an election which we know has already been rigged by CCM,” Hamad claimed, at the same time calling on all Zanzibaris to “stay calm during this difficult period” as “we want to see peace prevail in Zanzibar”.

At the time of the original election results being nullified by ZEC chairman Jecha, CUF maintained that its candidate Seif Shariff Hamad was ahead of incumbent president Ali Mohammed Shein (CCM) on the voters’ scorecards.

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