ARUSHA, Tanzania (AA) – Tanzania’s Constituent Assembly has finally adopted a draft constitution by a majority of votes cast by representatives of both the mainland and the island of Zanzibar.
The Constituent Assembly has convened in Dodoma, Tanzania’s capital, for more than two months, since resuming its activities on August 5 after a four-month hiatus to allow parliamentary debates on the state budget.
Deputy Assembly Clerk Thomas Kashililah announced the results of the vote, noting that all sections of the draft charter had been endorsed – in line with constitutional requirements – by a two-thirds majority.
“The number of members from Zanzibar were supposed to be 219. Of these, 154 voted while 65 did not vote,” Kashililah said in a statement.
According to Kashililah, 148 island representatives voted in favor of the draft constitution, while six voted against all sections of the document.
The 65 members who abstained from voting all belong to the opposition Defenders of the People’s Constitution coalition, known by its Swahili acronym, UKAWA.
This bloc has boycotted the Constituent Assembly since April.
As for the mainland votes, Kashililah said these should have totaled 411, but that only 335 voted while 85 – including members of the UKAWA group – had abstained.
“The ‘yes’ camp [from the mainland] attained a landslide victory of a minimum 331 and a maximum 334 votes,” Kashililah asserted.
Following the announcement, the house erupted in jubilation that lasted for more than half an hour. Some representatives even sang and danced.
Some assembly members from Zanzibar, visibly moved, sang their national anthem, which makes reference to the 1964 Zanzibar revolution.
Assembly Chairman Samuel Sitta, for one, appeared overwhelmed after final vote results were announced.
“I… hereby declare that the final draft constitution has attained the required votes from both the Tanzania mainland and Zanzibar, to be passed for the proposed new constitution,” he proclaimed in a statement.
The draft charter will now be put before a national referendum. If approved, it will become the country’s new constitution and a number of laws will be amended in line with the document.
If rejected, the country’s current constitution will be left in place until a new draft charter can be drawn up.
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