March 14, 2005

Zanzibar president not a constitutional requirement, says Mkapa

According to President Mkapa, the alternating presidency was not a constitutional requirement. The chances of nominating a presidential candidate for the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) from Zanzibar to compete in the October 30 general election thus remains shrouded in uncertainty. Up to now there is no clear favourite among the two candidates, who have already collected nomination forms and paid the compulsory fee of Tsh 1 million ($952) each to the CCM Secretariat. They are former OAU Secretary General Salim Ahmed Salim and Ali Abeid Karume - the young brother of Isles president Amani Karume. Sources in the Isles political circles said supporters of the two candidates were already exchanging bitter words in their bids to outdo one another for nomination.

Although Tanzania's historical political expectations on both Zanzibar and Tanzania mainland would entitle a Zanzibari to vie for presidential nomination, the presentation of this year's competition reveals that that may not necessarily be the case. Tanzania could see compromises by king makers on both sides to alter that tradition. The first president of the United Republic of Tanzania, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, was president from 1964 - 1985, he was replaced by Ali Hassan Mwinyi - a Zanzibari (1985 - 1995). Mwinyi handed over power to Benjamin Mkapa - a mainlander from 1995-2005. This is what gives Zanzibaris the impression that the next presidential nominee for CCM should come from the Isles. However, this tradition of alternating presidents is not constitutional, and it is what is driving many CCM members from Tanzania mainland to vie for the party nomination. Most CCM members seeking nomination or supporting certain mainland candidates have sided with Mkapa's argument because that is what gives them a chance to State House. (The East African, Nairobi)


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