Will Zanzibar crisis affect Tanzania presidential poll?

The cancellation of elections in Zanzibar will not affect the compilation and announcement of Union presidential election results, the National Electoral Commission (NEC) said yesterday.
The announcement came as the United States pronounced itself “gravely alarmed” by the cancellation and called for the decision to be rescinded.
NEC chairman Damian Lubuva said the commission had the constitutional mandate to proceed with the electoral process in Tanzania mainland despite the postponement of presidential and House of Representatives elections in Zanzibar.
However, leaders of the opposition coalition Ukawa maintained yesterday that the Union elections must also be called off, saying the Union and Zanzibar electoral processes were “intertwined’’.
Ukawa co-chairman James Mbatia said during a press conference that irregularities which were cited as reasons for nullifying the Zanzibar elections were also observed in some constituencies in Tanzania mainland.
“ZEC (Zanzibar Election Commission)annot nullify the elections in Zanzibar and expect that this won’t affect the Union process,’’ said Mr James Mbatia, who is the MP-elect for Vunjo constituency in Kilimanjaro Region.
Legal complexities
NEC’s Lubuva said that the electoral bodies in the Isles and the Mainland were being guided by two different constitutions, and added that NEC had already announced the presidential results for the Isles and would proceed with the results for the Union.
“The Zanzibar elections are guided by the 1984 Zanzibar Constitution but the Union elections are guided by the 1977 Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania,’’ he said.
Law professor Issa Shivji told The Citizen newspaper that it was too early to comment on a matter that has a lot of legal and constitutional complexities.
“I will have to revisit various legal and constitutional documents to be able to explain the matter,’’ he said.
The US, elaborating on its statement about the cancellation of the Zanzibari election, said: “This action halted an orderly and peaceful election, as evaluated by observer missions from the US Embassy, European Union, Commonwealth, and Southern Africa Development Community, and a tabulation process nearing completion.”
The UK embassy in Tanzania expressed similar sentiments.
Tension has been high in Zanzibar after the opposition Civic United Front candidate Seif Shariff Hamad declared himself president of the Isles, saying he had won the elections.