Statement of the Africa Liberal Network
Rosemary Machua, ALN Vice President East Africa
1 August 2016
Africa’s largest political affiliation, the Africa Liberal Network, strongly denounces the threat issued by the Inspector General of Police (IGP) of Tanzania to arrest the Civic United Front leader, Seif Sharif Hamad. Hamad represents the main opposition party in Zanzibar and the third largest party in Tanzania Mainland.
The threat by the IGP is allegedly for the so-called crime of spreading hatred against the Zanzibar government. The ALN finds this to be an outright anti-democratic accusation; as liberal democrats, we hold to the firm conviction that any individual or group has the inalienable right to be critical of their government. It is the government and state which must account to the people, and free thought and speech, with tolerance, must be permitted on all accounts especially where the state fails to uphold human rights.
Therefore, we urge the Tanzanian and Zanzibari authorities to stop harassing opposition leaders and civil society organisations and uphold the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights. This charter of the African Union (AU) enshrines human rights associated with political life and participation, such as the right to freedom of movement, assembly, and speech. To arrest Hamad would be to abandon some of the most vital human rights.
The ALN furthermore supports the Civic United Front’s call for inclusive dialogue on the Zanzibar political situation. Following international observation missions, including that of the ALN, during the October 2015 Zanzibar Elections, it was found that the electoral process was satisfactory and broadly free and fair. In spite of this, the ruling government annulled the results and called for fresh elections in March 2016, which CUF boycotted.
The future of Zanzibar cannot be pursued without civic and political consultation. Regardless of affiliation, the popularity of the Civic United Front in Zanzibar cannot be ignored, and means to silence opposition will not be tolerated.
Luke Akal (Africa Liberal Network Coordinator)
+27 81 4813754
Ismail Jussa (Civic United Front International Officer)
+255 777 414100