Tanzania is an “independent” country and will not be “intimidated”, the ruling party said on Saturday after the US expressed concern about the conduct of 70 recent by-elections. The US on Wednesday cited “election violence and irregularities” aimed at the opposition after local elections were held on Sunday to replace officials who had either resigned or died. “Credible accounts of election violence and irregularities include refusal by National Election Commission authorities to register opposition candidates, intimidation by police of opposition party members, unwarranted arrests, and suppression of freedoms of assembly and speech in the lead up to the by-elections,” the US said in a statement.
Articles about voting issues in the United Republic of Tanzania.
The United States said it was concerned about accounts of violence and intimidation in the run-up to Aug. 12 by-elections in Tanzania. Tanzanian opposition leaders have complained that tolerance for dissent has diminished rapidly since President John Magufuli took office in 2015 on pledges to reform the East African nation’s economy and crack down on corruption. The U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam cited “credible” accounts of violence and irregularities ahead of the by-elections.
The ruling party candidate in Tanzania’s semi-autonomous Zanzibar was declared the winner in a re-run of presidential elections boycotted by the opposition. The incumbent Zanzibar President Ali Mohamed Shein, of the national ruling CCM party, won 91.4 percent of the votes in Sunday’s ballot, the electoral body said after it annulled the initial poll in October that the opposition said it had won. In October, the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) called for a re-run citing fraud, a charge the opposition said was made up.
Zanzibar is preparing for an election rerun Sunday, after polls were nullified in the region last year. But the main opposition party is urging a boycott, and problems with ballot papers are causing many to wonder how a rerun will result in a better electoral process. Three days after Tanzanians cast their ballots in national elections last October, Zanzibar Electoral Commission Chairman Jecha Salim Jecha announced he would be annulling the island’s elections and holding new ones due to “violations of electoral law.” The opposition has dismissed these claims.
The Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) Director, Mr Salum Kassim Ali, has said preparations for the upcoming re-run elections on March 20 are on top gear. Mr Ali said here that they were prepared to make sure that the polls would be free and fair and past irregularities would not recur. “We have been moving on well and doing everything possible to ensure that the elections are free and fair. All the mistakes which led to the nullification of the October 2015 polls will be avoided,” he insisted.
After a long period of negotiations, it was announced on Friday that Zanzibar will hold a re-run of elections on 20 March. The news was accompanied by a deployment of security forces in the semi-autonomous archipelago and was greeted with anger by many on the streets of the capital. “We have been cheated,” exclaimed one resident of Stone Town. “They will be here up to the 20 March, there is no freedom in Zanzibar,” said another. The decision comes three months after elections in October 2015 were controversially annulled by the Zanzibar Electoral Commission chairman, Jecha Salim Jecha, who claimed that there had been irregularities. The Tanzanian army had a strong presence in Stone Town and had surrounded the Commission.
Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) chairman Jecha Salim Jecha has announced the date for a rerun of Zanzibar election as March 20 despite resistance from the main opposition Civic United Front, which insists that it will boycott such a poll. Mr Jecha said the decision was reached by ZEC in its meeting on January 21. “I call on leaders of political parties and the general public to continue to observe peace during this reparation time, on the voting day, during tallying and on the day a winner will be declared,” said Mr Jecha in a televised announcement.
The president of Zanzibar said on Tuesday that a re-run of the vote for a new leader of the islands, a semi-autonomous region of Tanzania, would go ahead despite calls by the opposition to scrap the plan. Zanzibar’s leader Ali Mohammed Shein did not announce a date, which will be set by the election commission. It is expected to take place in February. Tanzania has been one of Africa’s most politically stable nations but Zanzibar has been a hotbed of opposition to central government, with strong secessionist and Islamist voices. Votes on the islands are usually closely fought and often disputed.
Up to 50 women in Zanzibar have been divorced for taking part in the recent Tanzanian elections against the wishes of their husbands, according to lawyers and women’s rights campaigners. Mzuri Issa, coordinator of the Tanzania Media Women’s Association (TAMWA) in the semi-autonomous Zanzibar archipelago, said 47 women were divorced for voting contrary to their husband’s orders in a tightly fought ballot that remains undecided. Issa added some women did not take part in the election for fear of being divorced or for fear of violence, while others complained that they were forced to cast ballots for candidates they did not support. The divorces were confirmed by the Zanzibar Female Lawyers Association (ZFLA) and the Mwanakerekwe district Kadhi court in Zanzibar. “Some of the women were not allowed by their husband to vote but those who refused to see their right trampled on were either divorced or abandoned,” Issa told reporters.
Tanzania: In Zanzibar, democracy, peace and unity are at stake after annulled elections | The Washington Post
Tanzania held its fifth multi-party elections Oct. 25. Ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM, Party of the Revolution) will retain the presidency, with candidate John Magufuli winning 58.5 percent of the vote. Elections in Tanzania, though, are made up of two sets of elections. In addition to voting for Tanzanian presidential and parliamentary offices, the semiautonomous archipelago Zanzibar has its own president, legislature and electoral body — the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC). While pre-election polls showed that CCM was likely to stay in power in Tanzania’s mainland, signs pointed to a potential opposition victory in Zanzibar. Observers initially praised the elections as the smoothest in Zanzibar’s tumultuous history, but there was a sharp turn Wednesday morning. ZEC Chairman Jecha Salum Jecha unilaterally announced that Zanzibar’s elections would be annulled. The headline for this post draws from a statement by the Commonwealth observer team shortly after the results were annulled, pleading for a speedy resolution because “democracy, peace and unity in Zanzibar are at stake.” As rumors spread and tensions rise, this post sheds light on the events leading up to the announcement to annul Zanzibar’s election and the aftermath.