By Kizito Makoye
DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (AA) - Zanzibar's main opposition party, the Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT- Wazalendo) party, on Sunday announced joining the Government of National Unity in the semi-autonomous archipelago, a move which could heal the wounds in the wake of a disputed election in which dozens of people were killed.
As a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania, Zanzibar has its own government.
The party’s governing committee has already presented to the government a proposed name of its official who, in accordance with Zanzibar’s Constitution, would assume the role of first vice president in the government, officials said.
Addo Shaibu, ACT-Wazalendo's secretary general, told reporters that the decision was reached after the party’s central committee, which sat in Dar es Salaam, thoroughly discussed the advantages and disadvantages of the power-sharing deal.
According to him, the central committee has also permitted elected members of the House of Representatives, legislators and ward councilors, who won in Tanzania’s mainland, be permitted to proceed with their new political responsibilities.
“We would like the government to resolve some of the challenges faced in the disputed election, such as taking to task those involved in human rights violations,” Shaibu said.
The Section 9 (3) of the Zanzibar Constitution calls for political rivals to work together in the unity government to cement cohesion in the isles with troubled political history.
“We are not pleased by the manner in which the election was conducted. We were placed in dilemma of making a bad or a very bad decision. There was no option for making a good or bad decision,” Shaibu said.
Seif Sharif Hamad, the former opposition presidential candidate who is likely to take the slot as ceremonial leader in the unity government, had described the recent election as culmination of glaring flaws in the country’s electoral system.
The Zanzibar opposition claimed the Oct. 28 polls, in which Hussein Mwinyi of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi party emerged the winner with 76.3% of votes, were marred with widespread irregularities, fraud and flagrant violation of human rights.
Hamad, who ran on the ticket of ACT-Wazalendo party, last week sued the government of Tanzania and its counterpart in Zanzibar, at the African Court for Human and People’s Rights on alleged electoral malpractices and human rights abuses.
It is not known if his party has withdrawn that suit prior to today’s decision.