Z’bar bent on re-run poll despite talks, international pressure

02Jan 2016
David Kisanga
The Guardian
Z’bar bent on re-run poll despite talks, international pressure

Despite pressure from the European Union (EU), the United States of America (USA) and other international bodies and local non-governmental bodies to respect the people’s choice in Zanzibar’s election held on October 25, last year, it is now evident that the Isles will hold a repeat election soon.

President Ali Mohamed Shein (r) and Maalim Seif Sharif Hamad(l)

“Funds for holding the election have already been sourced. What remains is for the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) to set the polls date” Zanzibar Second Vice-President, Seif Ali Iddi said here yesterday.
The repeat election, if held, would come in the wake of the nullification of the October 25 general election by ZEC Chairman, Jecha Salim Jecha, citing poll irregularities, especially in Pemba where he alleged the number of votes cast at some polling stations exceeded the number of registered voters.
The poll nullification has since attracted pressure from a number of countries in the West, claiming that the Isle election was pronounced as both free and fair by local, regional and international observers, urging the poll process to proceed as planned.
Among the costs the country has incurred resulting from the Isle election impasse is the withholding of a $472.8m (over Sh1trn) Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) grant from the United States.
However, Iddi said the government had already set the budget for the exercise, without going into details.
“The cost of holding another round of polls is close to the amount spent on the last year’s, which was Sh7bn,” he said, adding:
“The people need to realize that the only way to resolve the political crisis in Zanzibar is to hold another election”.
The announcement comes as both incumbent President Dr Ali Mohamed Shein, who is CCM presidential candidate, and his rival, First Vice-President and Civic United Front (CUF) flag bearer, Seif Sharif Hamad, are holding talks on the election standoff in the Isles.
According to Iddi, despite the ongoing round of talks between the two leaders, the government stance was to hold another election.
According to him, the government was only waiting for the ZEC chairman to announce a new election date, insisting that there no section in the country’s constitution which gave the commission a deadline to fix such date.
He claimed that CCM and other political parties had confirmed their readiness to participate in the election.
He added, “It is upon other parties to boycott the election, but the government and ZEC have already made up their mind on the matter.”
He also insisted that even Union President John Pombe Magufuli had urged the two presidential rivals, Dr Shein and Maalim Seif, to finish their talks, insisting that the only amicable way to solve the crisis in the island was to call another election.
He stressed that Dr Shein was still the island’s president despite rumours doing the rounds that his term had already expired since November, last year.
He said CUF should stop spreading false information to Zanzibaris that the there is no government.
The vice-president noted that despite Dr Shein dissolving the House of Representative in August, last year, its members still existed.
When asked about ministers and deputy ministers from CUF who had decided to resign since last year, Iddi said the government still recognized them, adding that they were still being paid their salaries and being provided other perks as minsters.
“The CUF ministers have never returned their salaries or the government vehicles despite telling the public that they have resigned from their posts,” he said.
He said all cabinet ministers still existed and Dr Shein could summon a cabinet meeting with them at anytime.
Speaking about the 52nd Revolution Day celebrations, Iddi said that everything was in place and it would be marked today by Zanzibaris conducting cleanliness in various areas such public places, hospitals, markets and their residential surroundings.
He said he was puzzled why CUF had decided to boycott the celebrations, noting that the move was lack of respect to the country’s leaders who fought for the island’s independence on January, 12, 1964.
Last week CUF announced that it would not attend this year’s Revolution Day celebrations because their participation would be a betrayal of those who fought for the revolution.
Iddi, who is also chairman of the preparatory committee, said they had written a letter attached with a list of a number of projects that Maalim Seif was supposed to launch, noting further that he would stand in to launch projects which were supposed to be launched by Maalim Seif.
At least 24 projects will be launched during Revolution Day celebrations, of which 16 had been completed.
He said Maalim Seif replied back by saying that it would be impossible for him to attend the celebration, saying that would be approving the illegal stay in power of the CCM government.
He said what CUF was claiming was baseless, urging them to peruse the country’s constitution regarding presidential terms.
“What type of a president do they want to officiate at the celebration if not Dr Shein. They should show Zanzibaris the kind of person who they think is fit to rule the country,” he lamented.
According to him, Dr Shein was still the legal head of the country according to the constitution, saying he would only vacate from his position upon the swearing in of a new president.

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