15 November 2010

Tanzania: We Don't Recognise JK Govt, Says Chadema

Dodoma — The Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema) yesterday announced that it does not recognise Jakaya Kikwete as President of the United Republic of Tanzania on the allegation that he was declared winner in a flawed election.

Dr Willibrod Slaa, who was the Chadema presidential candidate in the last polls, told a press conference here that he was rejecting President Kikwete because his presidency was a product of fabricated poll results.

"I am using this opportunity to tell Tanzanians that I was not satisfied by the poll outcome, therefore I don't recognise Mr Jakaya Kikwete as a President, I want Tanzanians to understand that," said Dr Slaa.

However, in a quick rejoinder to Dr Slaa's statement, legal experts described it as faulty and pointed out that under the current laws, no one has powers to dispute presidential poll results once the National Electoral Commission (NEC) has declared the winner. Reached for comment Attorney General Frederick Werema criticised Chadema, and Dr Slaa in particular, for being ignorant of electoral laws.

"I think the law is clear about complaints related to election issues, everything should be challenged in court. I think and believe that it is nonsensical not to recognise the elected Head of State," said Judge Werema in a telephone interview with The Citizen.

But Dr Slaa stressed that his party made its declaration well aware that presidential poll results cannot be challenged anywhere according to Tanzanian laws, once they are announced by NEC.

"I said this before NEC announced the results and we wrote them to express our concerns, but they did not bother to respond, therefore, the only way for us is to reject the results and not to recognise the winner," said Dr Slaa.

According to Dr Slaa, Chadema has decided not to recognise President Kikwete "because the results were a fabrication." The former Karatu MP added that it was difficult to accept election results that were recorded without adhering to principles of democracy. He said the General Election, according to Chadema's analysis, was not free and fair, thus it could not produce a genuine winner.

"The election was not conducted under a conducive environment. Since the beginning of the process, we kept on warning NEC on this matter but no measures were taken," said Dr Slaa.

According to Dr Slaa, announcing their stand publicly was just one of strategies the party is set to undertake to ensure shortcomings in elections are addressed in the future.

But Mr Felix Kibodya, the president of Tanganyika Law Society, argued that according to the Constitution, once NEC has declared the presidential polls winner, no one could give a challenge.

He advised Chadema to first push for constitutional changes that would create an environment under which the presidential poll results could be challenged.

"Under the current law, NEC has the final say in this issue... even the swearing in of the winner is just a formality," he said.

He also wondered why Chadema has taken such a stance while its MPs are participating in the Parliament, which seeks to supervise the government which they do not recognise.

Commenting on this, Chadema national chairman, who is Leader of Official Opposition in Parliament, Mr Freeman Mbowe, said the Chadema MPs would participate in the activities of Parliament because the law dictates so.

But, he noted, the party would push for the formation of an independent committee to probe the violation of electoral principles all over the country. Mr Mbowe said the envisaged committee would also be tasked to find out why only few voters participated in the elections.

"We have been advocating for changes of the Constitution, today we are being trapped by bad laws to accept several things which are not good for us and our people; Chadema MPs will work according to the law and in respect of the Constitution," said Mr Mbowe.

But he categorically said no Chadema MP will serve in President Kikwete's Cabinet were he to appoint one. Commenting on the issue, another prominent lawyer, Prof Abdallah Safari said the rejection might hurt Tanzania image internationally.

He said with the fact that one of such standards was to have an independent electoral commission, it was difficult to conclude that the just ended elections were free and fair.

"If you follow that standard, it is obvious we did not have a free and fair election," he stressed. But Prof Safari said on the other hand, it was at least good have unpopular a government than not having one at all.

Additional reporting by Bernard Lugongo and Bernard James (Dar es Salaam)

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