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Jonathan averts crisis in Tanzania



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• Asks politicians to learn from him


FORMER President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has taken Nigeria’s electoral goodwill to Tanzania as head of a 33-man Commonwealth election observer mission to that country’s election which holds this weekend.
His presence and personal intervention, according to reports, have calmed frayed nerves in the East African country that had been engaged in fierce electioneering campaigns leading to the election of new leaders to run the country in the next few years.
Political stakeholders across Tanzania were said to have hailed his nomination as head of the observer team because of his personal experience of being one of the first African leader to have conceded an electoral loss.
It will be recalled that as the results of the country’s last March 28 presidential elections were being announced and it was obvious that he would lose, former President Jonathan who contested the election on the platform of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, had called his opponent, President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress, APC, to concede defeat.
It was the first time in Nigeria’s political history that a party in power would lose election to the opponents and victory conceded devoid of litigations, a development which had paved way for smooth transition of power in the country known in the past for violence even after the polls.
Jonathan’s arrival and his engagement of the political stakeholders in Tanzania was hailed across the country and beyond as he was described as the most appropriate person to lead the Commonwealth team because of his experience as an apostle of smooth transition.
At the parley held with stakeholders across board, he called for a free and fair election in the presidential poll that will hold this weekend, urging whoever loses to take it in good faith.
Jonathan, using his acceptance of defeat in the March 28 presidential election in Nigeria as example, warned that politicians should always put the citizens first, stressing that any attempt to reject the will of the people will lead to chaos and loss of lives.
“If you lose, accept defeat. I was concerned about allowing my personal ambition to scuttle a democratic system I had helped to nurture.
“In any election, there are winners and losers. The presidential candidate who loses on Sunday should gracefully concede the election to avert a political crisis.
“If all parties, including the national electoral commission, political parties, and the police force will play their role, nothing will stop Tanzania from recording a free and fair election this year.
“Successful elections will depend on how each stakeholder plays his or her role to ensure a peaceful, inclusive and transparent electoral process. I’m confident Tanzanians will achieve this.”
The National Daily gathered that as Tanzanians prepare to vote, they are happy that high-profile observers including former President Jonathan, who they consider as ‘a hero of free and fair election in Africa’, would be on ground to monitor the elections. They are hoping that their presence would ensure a transparent and peaceful election process.
Paying tribute to Jonathan in a recent editorial ahead of the elections, The Daily News of Tanzania commended the former president for taking his defeat in the last presidential election “in all magnanimity,” adding that “Jonathan may very well have averted bloodshed that is characteristic of incumbent leaders who cling in power tooth and nail, fang and claw! What lesson is there in this for us in Tanzania, pray?”
In the editorial entitled ‘Lessons for Tanzania from Nigeria’s latest elections, the newspaper said, “It is generally admitted that the election in Nigeria was unprecedentedly free, fair and transparent, whereby the opposition candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, won the Presidency. What is more remarkable is that the incumbent president who sought re-election, Goodluck Jonathan, most graciously accepted the results and promptly too!”
Similarly, the Guardian of Tanzania also poured encomium on former President Jonathan, describing him as a democrat who has pointed the way forward for the rest of Africa.
In its own editorial comment entitled ‘High profile figures among observers will add credibility to poll process, results, the Guardian stated “Jonathan’s voluntary handover of power to the opposition wrote a new chapter for Nigeria’s democracy, given the fact that it is rare for sitting presidents in Africa to hand over powers to winning opposition parties.”
Reports monitored by this medium also indicate that ordinary people of Tanzania are happy to see Jonathan lead the Commonwealth election monitoring team to the country
The news in town is the credibility former President Jonathan adds to the electoral process because of his exemplary feat of conceding defeat even before the end of the electoral process and subsequently handing over power to the opposition party.
The Tanzanian general election of 2015 will be the fifh in the series to be held since the restoration of multi-party democracy in 1992.
An estimated 24 million registered voters will elect the new President, Members of Parliament and local government councilors.
By convention, the election is held on the last Sunday of October and will be supervised by the National Electoral Commission (NEC). Political campaigns commenced on 22 August and will cease a day before the polling day.
The incumbent president, Jakaya Kikwete, is ineligible to be elected to a third term due to term limits.
The country’s dominant ruling party, the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) selected Works Minister, John Magufuli as its presidential nominee; instead of the front-runner, former Prime Minister Edward Lowassa.
Lowassa after failing to secure the ruling party’s nomination defected to an opposition party that once labeled him as “one of the most corrupt figures in Tanzanian society.”
This year’s election is the most competitive and unpredictable in the nation’s history. The government has warned politicians to refrain from engaging in witchcraft, and a deputy minister told parliament that reports linking politicians with the killing of people with albinism could be true as it increases during the election period.
A ban on witch doctors was imposed in January 2015, as some of them condoned the killings due to superstitious beliefs that the victims’ bodies “possess powers that bring luck and prosperity”.
National Daily gathered that the issues that may decide the direction of where the votes will swing include security, unemployment, power and infrastructure; as political parties have made these issues central theme of their campaign promises.
Officials of the Tanzanian electoral commission said the commission is ready to conduct a free, fair and credible election.
However, the commission said security of the process lies with security agencies. National Daily gathered that 399 units of Armoured Personnel Carrier have been deployed in strategic parts of the country to prevent riots especially in Deer Salaam the country’s capital.

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