Presidential candidates from the two main rival political parties in Tanzania’s semi-autonomous islands of Zanzibar and Pemba have committed themselves to encouraging their supporters to stop fomenting violence in the run-up to the 30 October elections.
Incumbent Amani Abeid Karume and his main challenger, Seif Shariff Hamad, met on Monday and called on Zanzibaris to develop a culture of tolerance and respect for differing political points of view.
Supporters of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) and the main opposition group, the Civic United Front (CUF) have clashed on several occasions in 2005. Following polls in 2000, fighting left around 40 people dead and many more injured and displaced.
Karume and Hamad's undertaking came in a joint statement Monday after a two-hour meeting in Zanzibar. They said they wanted to ensure peaceful elections and to put public and national interests above all else.
They agreed to respect a peace accord their parties signed in 2001, known as the Muafaka Accords, as well as the country’s new electoral code of conduct.
The code, signed on 20 August by 17 registered political parties on the island, binds all political stakeholders to responsible behavior during campaigning, elections and after the polls. It also commits all political parties to respect and accept the official poll results, forbids the use of offensive and derogatory language in the run-up to and during the elections.
In addition, the code prohibits religious leaders from using their positions to campaign for parties and called on the state media to be impartial. The government is forbidden from harassing and undermining political parties while the Zanzibar Electoral Commission is expected to ensure that there is transparency and fair play in the electoral process.
The Forum for the Restoration of Democracy was the only party with permanent registration that did not sign the agreement.