By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief
ABUJA — The Commonwealth of Nations has appointed Nigeria’s former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, as a Special Representative to peacefully resolve the political stalemate in the semi-independent island of Zanzibar, Tanzania.
He had earlier led the Commonwealth Observer Group, COG, to monitor last month’s Tanzania general elections.
The former president’s new appointment was conveyed to him last week in a letter by the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Mr Kamalesh Sharma.
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 rose 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.
One of the parties, Civic United Front, CUF, had declared itself winner even before the Tanzanian national electoral body could collate and announce results of the polls.
Mr. Sharma in the letter said: “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.”