October 28, 2005

National elections postponed following candidate's death

Tanzania's general election, due on October 30, has been postponed to December 18 because of the death of opposition vice-presidential candidate Jumbe Rajab Jumbe. Announcing the postponement, National Electoral Commission Chairman Lewis Makame said, however, that presidential and parliamentary elections would go ahead as planned in the semi-autonomous Zanzibar archipelago. Jumbe was the running mate of Freeman Mbowe, presidential candidate for the opposition Chama Cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (CHADEMA - Democracy and Development Party).

Makame said under the commission's laws, an election must be postponed for at least 21 days if a presidential or vice-presidential candidate dies. The postponement would allow the affected party to nominate another candidate and enable the commission to print and distribute new ballot papers. The postponement automatically extends the term of Union of Tanzania President Benjamin Mkapa by about six weeks.

Under Tanzania's laws, any presidential candidate from the mainland must have a running mate from Zanzibar, and vice versa. As such, Mbowe's running mate must hail from Zanzibar since he is from the mainland. Jumbe was Zanzibari. CHADEMA now has until 18 November to replace Jumbe. Makame said poll campaigns, suspended following the postponement, would resume a day after CHADEMA names its vice-presidential candidate.

In Zanzibar, electoral commission officials said the island's elections would not be affected by the postponement. Zanzibaris will now vote on Sunday to elect the island's president, members of the House of Representatives and local councillors. They will then vote for the Union of Tanzania's presidency on 18 December. (Independent Online, South Africa)

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