Following his highly acclaimed leadership of the Commonwealth Observer Group in last month’s Tanzania general elections, the 53-nation body of former British colonies has given former President Goodluck Jonathan a fresh mandate to lead the charge for the resolution of the political stalemate in the semi-independent island of Zanzibar.
After the October 25 general elections which produced John Magufuli as the new President of Tanzania, the Jonathan-led COG and other international observers had endorsed the polling processes as credible.
However, tension rules on the island of Zanzibar, following the nullification of the presidential election results by the local electoral body, over claims of irregularities. International observers have continued to dispute this decision, on the grounds that both the voting and counting processes were held in an atmosphere of peace.
The Commonwealth which has a history of mediating on the island has kick-started the international efforts towards resolving the current crisis, by appointing Jonathan as its Special representative, in what analysts see as an affirmation of the former President’s towering status as the moral face of democracy and transparent polling in Africa. This development was conveyed to Jonathan last week in a letter sent to him by the Commonwealth Secretary General, MrKamalesh Sharma.
In the letter which Sharma personally signed, the Secretary-General had wrote: “As you are aware, the Zanzibar electoral situation remains unsolved, although recent reports indicating willingness by the main political parties to engage in talking is encouraging. In view of the Commonwealth’s historical role as the moral generator of the Muafaka Accords, it is important that we remain engaged to continue to encourage all concerned to resolve the situation in a peaceful and sustainable manner.
“I am therefore delighted and honoured that you have kindly agreed to be my Special Representative over the coming weeks, in order to remain in contact with key political leaders and to encourage them towards an expeditious resolution of the impasse. I am certain that your personal close interest can play a crucial role in building the necessary political bridges.”
He further commended Jonathan for his successful leadership of the COG, saying that he brought his rare experience to bear on the challenging mission. Sharma said further: “I am writing to thank you once again for rendering the Commonwealth such distinguished service through your generous personal commitment of time and your Leadership of the Commonwealth Observer Group to last week’s elections in the United Republic of Tanzania.