Tanzania sets constitution referendum‏ for March

The opposition accused the government of violating an earlier agreement to postpone the move until 2016

Tanzania sets constitution referendum‏ for March

World Bulletin/News Desk

The Tanzanian government on Tuesday announced that a public referendum on a proposed new constitution would be held on March 30.

"Before the referendum, the National Election Commission (NEC) will conduct a process of updating the voters' register in an exercise expected to be completed by February," Attorney-General Frederick Werema told Anadolu Agency by phone from Dar es Salaam.

"The voters' register update aims to provide an opportunity for all qualified Tanzanians to participate in the voting process," he said.

Werema noted that updating the register was an expensive exercise.

"The government will provide funds for the exercise because there are so many people who have reached voting age since the last general election in 2010," he explained.

Following the register update, he said, supporters and opponents of the draft constitution would have one month to campaign.

"There will be a 30-day campaign in favor of or against the proposed constitution at the beginning of March 2015," Werema told AA.

However, he could not specify the anticipated cost of the referendum.

On October 8, the draft constitution was handed over to President Jakaya Kikwete by the country's Constituent Assembly.

The Constitutional Review Act requires that the referendum be held within 84 days of the document being handed over to the president.

"We [the government] are going to table an amendment bill during the next National Assembly sitting in November to extend the limitation period for the referendum," said Werema.

The National Assembly is expected to convene in capital Dodoma from November 5.

Outcry

National Assembly Acting Secretary General John Joel said they have not yet received any bill amendment to that effect.

"We are waiting to see if it is coming," he told AA. "We will attend it as the law requires."

Meanwhile, the Chama Cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema), Tanzania's main opposition party, criticized the government's announcement.

"The government is doing things against the consensus reached by all political parties that the referendum exercise should wait until 2016," Freeman Mbowe, the party's national chairman, said.

At a recent meeting between political parties and President Kikwete, Mbowe recalled, "we agreed to postpone the referendum until after the general elections coming on October 2015."

Werema, the attorney-general, confirmed that political parties had indeed reached such an agreement.

"But this was because we thought we weren't going to get the two-third votes to approve the proposed constitution," he said.

The draft constitution required two thirds of the vote, representing both the mainland and Zanzibar, to pass the assembly.

Announcing the vote results, Thomas Kashililah, deputy secretary-general of the assembly, said 147 Zanzibar representatives had voted in favor of the document – one vote more than the needed two-thirds majority.

He added that at least 331 assembly members from the mainland had likewise approved the document.

"The constitutional demand for two-third votes from Zanzibar and the Tanzania mainland were met," said Werema.

He added: "Now we have a proposed constitution and the law demands a referendum."

Güncelleme Tarihi: 21 Ekim 2014, 22:38

Muhammed Öylek

YORUM EKLE