CUF issues threat to shun poll

By Elias Mhegera Dar and Salma Said, Pemba

The Civic United Front (CUF) announced yesterday that it is set to boycott General Election next year if the Zanzibar government refuse to review the voter registration exercise.

This was said by the party secretary general, Mr Seif Sharif Hamad, at a press conference held at party headquarters.

Mr Hamad said the party was not happy with the way the registration has been managed and they were calling for review so as to establish if all those who have been registered are qualified voters.

He said it the government refuses to review the exercise, the party would organise demosntartions and if the government sticks to its guns, there will be no other option that to stay away from the General Election as well as civic polls.

Mr Hamad condemned the way the Zanzibar Government has dealt with voters� registration in the Isles particularly in Pemba, saying the events that has characterised the exercise indicate that the authorities were bent to rob the opposition party of its rights.

He said that the whole exercise must be revisited in order to verify if those who have been registered were bonafide voters.

�You can not expect to have fair registration in a situation where the country is run as if we are under military rule,� he said.

He blamed the Zanzibar state minister in the Chjief Minister�s Office, Mr Hamza Hassan Juma and the director of Zanzibar Identification Department Mr Mohamed Juma Ame, for chaos that has reigned voter registraton in Pemba.

�It is easy for any sober mind to understand why there are more incidences of violence in Pemba where CUF enjoys major support,� he added.

He warned that should the government fail to agree to the suggestion of reviwing the exercise, his party would organise mammoth demonstrations in a day to be announced later.

�The way the incidences of violence are conducted in Pemba clearly indicates that they are motivated by a strong backing from powerful circles in the Government,� he said.

Mr Hamad added claiming that the Government has neglected incidences of violence simply because the victims were the CUF followers.

He claimed that the Zanzibar Government has gone far to the extent of using �unscrupulous� journalists to distort information deliberately or at times they belittle the extent of the problem.

�Under such circumstances we cannot expect to have free and fair elections… therefore we kindly ask the Union President Mr Jakaya Kikwete to intervene immediately and rescue the situation,� he said.

Meanwhile, the situation was relatively calm in Pemba yesterday but only few people turned to be registered.

In a lone incident, a house belonging to North Pemba regional police commander, Mr Yahya Rashid was set ablaze by unidentified people. A motor cycle and a carpet were destroyed in the fire which was put off before causing extensive damage.

Due to acts of violence the turn up to registration centres have gone down considerably to the extent that ZEC officials have been siting idle in most of registration centres.

Only 75 people were registered at Kambini centre and 112 at Minungwini stations. However some officials could not avail statistics to journalists, when they were requested to do so.

While this was going on in Pemba the situation was quite different in Unguja where the exercise went on very smoothly although it was conducted under tight security.

Source: The Citizen, 17 September 2009

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