Zanzibar – What Next?

analysis By Citizen Reporters

Dar/Zanzibar - The landslide victory for CCM in Sunday's Zanzibar polls is a culmination of a crisis that might shape future of the Indian Ocean archipelago for generations to come.

That the elections have polarised Zanzibaris and widened regional differences along ideological lines is an undeniable fact.

Whether the semi-autonomous state has entered a twilight zone only time will tell. But the question that lingers in the minds of many is 'what next'. How does Zanzibar move to the next step with almost half its population de-enfranchised with no voice in the law-making bodies and formal political platforms?

Ambassadors and high commissioners from 15 major donor countries have called for the start of negotiations and national reconciliation process for "an inclusive, sustainable and peaceful resolution."

Despite commending the calm that prevailed during Sunday's elections the envoys said they regretted Zanzibar Electoral Commission's (ZEC) decision to hold the elections but called for efforts to start the healing process.

But observers have also been wondering at what it would take to bring the opposing parties together given CCM-backed electoral commission's unilateral decision to hold poll rerun.

In his "victory" speech, Zanzibar President Ali Mohammed Shein pledged to resolve the political crisis, though he did not go into details on how he would go about it. He said even as the people of Zanzibar had chosen him to be their leader he was aware of the political impasse and would do everything in his powers to solve the crisis.

"I will serve all Zanzibaris regardless of their different political ideologies," he said.

The main opposition party, CUF, which boycotted the Sunday's polls seems to have put the elections in the past and focus on the next elections in 2020. The party officials were dismissing claims that CUF being out of the House of Representatives or outside the Government of National Unity could weaken the party.

"The CUF will never shake because it has 'lost' all its constituencies to CCM," the CUF director for Planning and Elections, Mr Omari Ali Shehe, told The Citizen in Pemba earlier this week.

But despite this "what has passed has passed" attitude from CUF, the questions of how will Zanzibaris get along in the next five years persist.

In a press statement yesterday opposition CUF said they did not recognise the Zanzibar President-elect and will not work with the government that he would form based on the results of the election rerun which they claim was illegal.

In a press statement released by party's deputy secretary general (Zanzibar) Ahmed Nassor Mazrui the party reiterated that they won in the nullified October 25 General Election and called on its supporters to remain calm.

"We know that Zanzibaris are eager to know what will be our next step in defending their democratic will, which they expressed on October 25, 2015. We want them to know that CUF is still going strong and we haven't given up the fight. We're still taking the democratic and peaceful way and we will keep on updating them on all new developments," said Mr Mazrui in the statement.

For her part, CCM Ideology and Publicity Secretary (Zanzibar) Waride Bakari Jabu, who admitted that the GNU question was purely constitutional, defended her party of adhering to the country's constitution and laws.

On security, Ms Jabu said CCM was optimistic that the situation would soon normalise.

There are mixed feelings and opinions from stakeholders. Dr Benson Bana of the University of Dar es Salaam told The Citizen earlier this year that the only way to find a lasting solution to Zanzibar's electoral crises was to change the structure of the Union that could redefine the status and the place of Zanzibar in Tanzania.

"I'm sure a one government union structure for the United Republic of Tanzania, could lead to a lasting solution to post-election conflict in Zanzibar," Dr Bana noted.

For his part, the leader of Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT)-Wazalendo, Mr Zitto Kabwe, called for intervention of political leadership to fid solution for the challenges ahead.

"Zanzibar situation is worrisome and the just ended elections will make it escalate," said Mr Kabwe.

Source: All Africa