Jan 14, 2010

Zanzibar: Karume- Two Terms are Enough

Active Image Zanzibar President Amani Abeid Karume yesterday put to rest talk about running for a third five-year term.



Below is an article published by The Citizen:


Zanzibar President Amani Abeid Karume yesterday put to rest talk about running for a third five-year term, during a public rally in Pemba that was marred by a stampede in which one person died and 18 were injured.

After calm was restored at one of the biggest rallies ever held by the President in the island, Mr Karume declared that he was ineligible to run for office again as such a move would be unconstitutional.

However, Mr Karume, whose second and final term ends in October, avoided direct reference to the ongoing debate in the Isles on recent calls for amendment of the Constitution to extend his tenure.

Officiating at his last Zanzibar Revolution Day celebrations at Gombani Stadium in Pemba, as the President, Mr Karume made no mention of his future plans.

Earlier, during the stampede, hundreds of people trying to enter the stadium to witness the celebrations crashed into one another, killing one person and injuring 18.

The high turnout at the celebrations, held for the second consecutive second in Pemba, was uncharacteristic of the situation in recent years in the island, which is the political stronghold of the opposition Civic United Front.

President Karume praised as courageous and patriotic, the decision he and CUF secretary-general Maalim Seif Hamad had made "bring about big positive change in Zanzibar politics".

He added: "The talks have opened a new chapter in building unity among us. I hope we have opened the doors for the formation of new Zanzibar with its people living in harmony. We must agree that things bring us together as a nation are more important than those dividing us."

Before his address, President Karume had inspected a guard of honour. Many people had been anxious to hear the Zanzibar leader break his silence on the mounting calls for the extension of his tenure.

Those in favour have argued that it is necessary for President Karume to consolidate his peace initiative with his long-time political rival Maalim Seif Hamad, whom he defeated twice in violent, hotly disputed elections.

But yesterday President Karume stated categorically his two five-year terms were coming to an end, according to the Constitution.

"The Revolution Day celebrations today, January 12, 2010, are of special importance in the history of our country. This year's celebrations are being held just nine months before the General Election and also mark the end of the second term of the sixth phase government under my presidency. Constitutionally, there is no third term," he said.

President Karume has this week come under pressure from politicians and analysts, wanting him to speak out and confirm to the public he has nothing to do with the growing campaign for him to remain in power.

They said the Zanzibar leader should give his position on the matter as it was already causing anxiety in the Isles.

The first call was made at the first ever 'State of Politics' conference in Zanzibar two weeks ago, organised by Research and Education for Democracy in Tanzania (Redet). At least four participants broached the idea.

Yesterday, apart from ruling out a third term, Mr Karume told the well attended rally that the 1964 Revolution was the pillar of Zanzibar's freedom.

He said most of main objectives of the 1revolution had been achieved and that the country had recorded significant economic progress.

He directed officials to make sure that every Zanzibari, who qualifies for the residence ID, a pre-condition for one to be registered as a voter, enlists before Election Day.

"There is a possibility that some eligible voters have not had an opportunity to register and that is why the Zanzibar Electoral Commission is having a second round of registration.

I call upon those who qualify to go for their national identity cards. Our aim should be to run a successful election and work together to build our country," he said.

He also spoke on the contentious issue of the sharing of natural gas and oil in Zanzibar. He said Zanzibaris overwhelmingly supported the decision that these should be non-Union matters.

Zanzibar, he added, wished to manage its natural resources as the same way Tanzania Mainland exploits gold, diamonds and natural gas.

"On this I must thank President Jakaya Kikwete for his advice on how to go about removing oil and gas from the Articles of the Union," he said.

He said financial services had grown in the last nine years, pointing out that there were nine banks operating in today, up from five in the year 2000.

Investment in the tourism sector, which contributes 25 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product, he added, had also increased. "There is a surge in investments in hotels, which have created much employment."

On agriculture, the President said, the government was promoting irrigation to mitigate with the effects of climate change.

He said Zanzibar had succeeded in the war against malaria through its campaign, popularly known as "Kataa Malaria".

"Our aim is to completely eradicate malaria in Zanzibar," he said amid cheers.

In education, he said the number of schools Zanzibar had increased from 325 in 2000 to 624, last year, while 2,000 new classrooms had been built during that period.