SADC Observers Commend Tanzania

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By Emma Kakololo WINDHOEK TANZANIA received a pat on the back for holding peaceful, free, transparent and credible elections last week, by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Elections Observer Mission (SOEM). “The people of Tanzania have spoken…The people of the United Republic of Tanzania have expressed their will in an impressively instructive manner that will go a long way in contributing to the consolidation of democracy and political stability not only in Tanzania but also in the region as whole,” Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development Minister, who is also the Head of the Namibian Observer Mission, John Pandeni, remarked when he delivered SOEM’s preliminary report. “SADC wishes therefore, to commend the people of Tanzania for the high levels of political accommodation and maturity displayed,” he said when he presented his views on that country’s third parliamentary and presidential elections that took place on December 14. SOEM that started with the observer mission on October 22 however scaled down its activities in the mainland and focussed on Zanzibar, following the unfortunate death of the Chadema presidential candidate’s running mate, Jumbe Rajab, on October 27 2005. The mission resumed with its activities on November 30 2005 after the announcement of the new dates. Pandeni said in general, the pre-election phase was characterised by peace, tolerance and political vigour of the party leaders and the various candidates. “No violence was observed countrywide except for few incidences which were promptly addressed by the law enforcement agencies. With regard to the polling process, it is SADC’s overall view that the elections were conducted in an open, transparent and professional manner,” he stated. “The polling stations opened and closed at prescribed times and SADC was impressed by the orderliness and patience of voters who, we believe were able to express their franchise peacefully, freely and unhindered,” he added. With regard to the vote counting, he noted all stakeholders from party agents, monitors to presiding officers and local observers performed their duties as expected and no one could leave the polling station before the counting was finalised. “The polling stations were provided with lamps to ensure continuity of the counting process throughout the evening while law enforcement agencies continued to provide security,” Pandeni said. A detailed account of the observation would be made public soon.