Dar es Salaam, March 29, 2016 (AFP) – The United States said Tuesday it was putting on hold a $472.8 million energy grant for Tanzania after the controversial re-run of elections in Zanzibar and the passing of a cybercrimes law. The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a US government body that assists developing countries that commit to standards on democracy and basic rights, has “voted to suspend development” of the compact, US Ambassador to Tanzania Mark Childress said in a statement. The money was to be used to increase access to reliable electricity.
The March 20 presidential and legislative elections on Tanzania’s semi-autonomous islands were a re-run of October polls that were cancelled by the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) over fraud allegations. The annulment came after opposition CUF candidate Seif Sharif Hamad declared himself the winner before the results were officially announced. In the re-run, the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party won 91.4 percent after the opposition boycotted the vote.
Zanzibar’s President Ali Mohamed Shein was sworn into office last week. The MCC criticised the “new election in Zanzibar that was neither inclusive nor representative” as well as saying that government “has also not taken measures to ensure freedom of expression and association are respected in the implementation of the Cybercrimes Act.” Other US aid to Tanzania continues. “As Tanzania’s largest bilateral development partner, we will continue our work together to improve health and education, promote economic growth, and advance security,” Childress said.
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