ZANZIBAR, TANZANIA (AP) – The main opposition party in Tanzania’s semiautonomous Zanzibar archipelago has announced it will join a coalition government with the islands’ ruling party, after a disputed poll in October in which some of its supporters were allegedly killed and its leaders arrested.
The Alliance for Change and Transparency-Wazalendo has decided to enter into a government of national unity with the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi party, as required by Zanzibar’s constitution, the opposition party’s Secretary-General Ado Shaibu announced on Sunday in the country’s largest city, Dar Es Salaam.
The constitution of Tanzania’s semiautonomous Zanzibar archipelago requires the party that comes in second in the polls to join a coalition with the winning party.
While noting the October election was marked by “gross violations of the basic rights of our people, vote-rigging and systematic tampering with the voting process,” the leadership of the ACT-Wazalendo party strongly believes the party is in a better position to fix problems “while we’re in, and not out”, Shaibu told a press conference.
The party will insist on an investigation into allegations of human rights violations before, during, and after the elections, including charges to be filed against those found to be responsible for planning and implementing such incidents, said Shaibu.
The party also demands reforms to restore public confidence in the electoral system.
ACT-Wazalendo came in second in Zanzibar’s general elections with nearly 20 per cent of the total votes. The party’s presidential candidate, Seif Shariff Hamad, came in second place with 10 per cent of the votes, which allows him to participate in the government.
ACT-Wazalendo reported that at least nine people died when police opened fire on demonstrators who had charged that soldiers were distributing pre-marked ballots to polling places in Zanzibar. Its presidential candidate was arrested while others were injured by police, the party charged.
Without local or international observers and no way to challenge results in court, the opposition had called for peaceful protests but they were prevented by police.
The United States government noted that “irregularities and the overwhelming margins of victory raise serious doubts about the credibility of the results announced”.