26 March 2016

Tanzania: Calls for Zanzibar Peace Pact After CCM Victory

Photo: Daily News
Zanzibar president Ali Mohamed Shein casts his vote at Bungi village, South Unguja Region.

Zanzibar's re-elected President Mohammed Shein is preparing to inaugurate the new parliament with all 54 members being from the ruling party Chama cha Mapinduzi, as international players call for a new peace accord to save the Isles from possible violence.

After the main opposition Civic United Front (CUF) boycotted the election re-run of March 20, CCM won in all constituencies.

The Zanzibar Constitution allows the president to nominate 10 MPs and it is widely expected that some of the presidential contestants from seven political parties are likely to get seats in the House of Representatives.

Political analysts say leaving CUF, which has been a powerful opposition force in the past 20 years out of the country's politics could have serious repercussions on democracy and peace.

A statement released by 16 High Commissioners and ambassadors to Tanzania on Tuesday condemned the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) decision to proceed with the election without CUF.

The diplomats said reconciliation talks were inevitable to ensure that Zanzibar remained peaceful as the current situation could lead to a serious breach of security as long as CUF remained a strong political influence with support from across both Pemba and Zanzibar.

CUF also harbours dissenting opinion on the current structure of the Union between Mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar, and advocates a 'Contract Union' and a more sovereign Zanzibar.

Nicodemus Minde, a political consultant in Tanzania, said the majority of the Zanzibar people want a more equitable Union and increased stakes for Zanzibar. He sees a strong possibility of Zanzibaris voting against the proposed constitution in a referendum.

Chris Peter Maina, a constitutional law professor from the University of Dar es Salaam told The EastAfrican that being out of government would deny CUF a platform from which to pursue greater autonomy for Zanzibar.

"The party will have limited political space to pursue its agenda. CCM is uncomfortable with the proposal of 'Contract Union' because it goes contrary to the letter and the spirit of the Articles of Union of 1964, while some people believe a Union by contract is the first step towards winding up the Union once the contract comes to an end," said Prof Maina.

In the 2010 elections, CUF had 18 representatives from all Pemba constituencies and four from Zanzibar while the remaining 28 were from CCM.

However, in the disputed October election, CUF claimed to have won all the constituencies in Pemba and nine in Zanzibar, which has been the CCM stronghold. The number of constituencies in Zanzibar had been increased to 36, bringing the total number of MPs from the two islands to 54.

Benson Bana, a political scientist at the University of Dar es Salaam said that even if CUF was to be part of the government of national unity, the party's Secretary General, Seif Hamad -- who was also first Vice President in the previous government -- has been too critical of the government making an all-inclusive government difficult.

"CUF will continue with their activism out of the government and there will be pressure here and there for the two parties to hold talks and negotiations," said Dr Bana.

The growing influence of the CUF can't be ignored. Electoral records show that CUF has grown from being a political party for Pemba people to that with considerable support in Zanzibar, after it secured more seats in the island in the 2010 election.

Analysts now warn that failure to address the non-representation of CUF in parliament could increase calls for cessation and encourage more youth to join radical groups. Additional reporting by Fred Oluoch.

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