ISSA YUSSUF in Zanzibar, 11th May 2009 @ 22:26,

The Civic United Front (CUF) has insisted that the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) should allow stakeholders to access the Permanent Voters Register (PVR), to verify voters before the Magogoni by-election scheduled for May 23.

“This is the first test for ZEC. We want it to prove that it has changed and would manage free and fair elections. ZEC must disclose its genuine PVR to win our trust and clear growing allegations that it has a hidden agenda of helping the ruling party,” CUF Chairman, Prof Ibrahim Lipumba, said over the weekend when launching the party’s campaign for the by-election.

He told a cheering crowd that ZEC must prove to Zanzibaris that it was ready to manage election in a more transparent way by following existing election laws. He also asked donors, specifically those pushing for smooth democracy to help ZEC become more transparent and avail the register to stakeholders for verification.

Prof Lipumba said ZEC’s reluctance to make the register available demolished its credibility and was a setback to efforts to strengthen democracy. Meanwhile, CUF Secretary General, Seif Sharif Hamad, has asked the ruling CCM to show in practice that it was ready for smooth democracy.

“In addition, this by-election is a test for all of us…it will show how far ZEC, political parties, voters and security forces mainly in Zanzibar have changed towards political tolerance and transparency,” Mr Hamad said. He said preliminary assessment indicated that ZEC, CCM, local leaders (Shehas) and security forces including the police were still violating election rules, by denying the youth the right to register and vote.

Speaking at the campaign rally which was also attended by the Deputy Register of Political Parties, Mr Rajab Baraka, the CUF candidate Mr Hamad Ali Hamad, promised to work ‘tirelessly’ to improve roads, water supply and health services in the area after CCM had failed to do so for many years.

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