Tuesday, February 23, 2016

ZEC in Zanzibar maintains its stance

DESPITE the Civic United Front (CUF) and other six political parties have declared that they would not take part in the upcoming Zanzibar general election re-run scheduled for March 20, the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) Chairperson, Mr Jecha Salim Jecha, said here yesterday that his office still recognised all candidates as genuine contenders. “CUF presidential candidate and its candidates for House of Representatives and councillors, and six other political parties had written to ZEC, saying they will not take part. Unfortunately, all the candidates and their political parties claiming to have boycotted the polls have failed to follow the required procedures. Section 31 and 37a, and chapters 46 and 50 of the Zanzibar electoral law stipulate procedures for the nomination of candidates as well as showing how a candidate can withdraw from the race. “None of the candidates have observed the rules,” said Mr Jecha in a press statement. Mr Jecha said according to regulations, it is the responsibility of a political party to write to the ZEC to withdraw its sponsorship of a candidate. He said even the vocal CUF have failed to observe the procedures. “It is very important to understand and follow the law governing elections,” he stressed. He added: “We have been communicating with all the 14 political parties, alongside distribution of elections materials in all eleven districts before distributing to 1,580 polling stations later,” said Mr Jecha. The ZEC chairman added that all the 14 presidential candidates, aspirants for the House of Representatives membership in 54 constituencies and candidates for 111 ward councillorship remain equally recognised as genuine candidates in the March elections. Mr Jecha acknowledged to have received letters from CUF and other six parties, saying that they will not take part in the elections while eight other political parties including CCM, ACT, ADC CCK AFP, SAU, TLP and ADA-TADEA have confirmed participation. “We are finalising procedures to provide all the presidential candidates with 24 hour security guards until the elections results have been announced,” Mr Jecha said adding that the Permanent Voter Register (PVR) will be displayed in several areas so that voters can identify their respective polling stations. He told reporters that preparations for the fresh elections have been progressing while the selection and recruitment of qualified returning officers and other staff have been made -- followed by training on better election handling. Training for returning officers (constituency level) is scheduled for February 22-28 while that for training of polling station officers is planned to start on March 11 up to 13. The training for the political parties’ agents and security service men will be held on March 14 and 15 respectively. The ZEC chairman said that preliminary arrangements for the printing of ballot papers are over while the printer, who he did not disclose, is already working on the assignment to print the ballot papers expected to be brought to Zanzibar early in March. “We ask the people to get prepared for the fresh elections. All candidates from different political parties should also observe election regulations and laws,” Mr Jecha advised. The upcoming elections follow the one last October 25, which was nullified due to “massive electoral fraud’’. CUF leaders were yesterday unreachable to give comments on the ZEC move to retain all candidates in the last year’s general election for the upcoming polls. However, Mr Nassor Khamis, a lawyer and ZEC commissioner from CUF, said “it is all total confusion.” He said it is unacceptable for the ZEC to force people who are unwilling to remain as candidates. All CUF candidates and others have decided not to join in the planned elections, “then why force them.” Mr Nassor said although the sections cited by the ZEC Chairperson were about organised elections, “it is unfortunate that the March 20 re-run has no legal backing’’. He added: “If Mr Jecha says he had nullified the whole last October election, then the whole election process would have started from the beginning with nominations of candidates followed by campaigns”.

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