Unrest in Zanzibar

 

Unrest in Zanzibar

Author: 

George Conger

Tensions are high in Zanzibar, sources tell Anglican Ink, following the 25 Oct 2015 decision by the Independent Electoral Commission to nullify the elections held in the archipelago after "serious irregularities" were found during the count. The Commission ordered a new election for Zanzibar, but upheld the results of the vote on the mainland. Initial returns show John Magufuli of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi party (CCM) was winning with 59.2 per cent of votes cast with challenger Edward Lowassa receiving 39.6 per cent of the vote. The commission reported that in Zanzibar some polling stations returned more ballots than the number of registered voters. Independent poll watchers report the opposition won a majority of votes on Zanzibar. Zanzibari President Ali Mohamed Shein, a member of the ruling CCM party whose term of office was set to expire on 1 Nov 2015, has said he will stay in power pending the new elections. However, opposition leader Seif Sharif Hamad declared himself the winner of the 25 October vote and his Ukawa party has threatened to take action if the results of the first vote are not honored. Christian leaders on the island report a heavy police presence in the streets of the capital Stone Town. The opposition has called for Zanzibar to break free from Tanzania and for the creation of an Islamic state on the island. Sources tell AI there is a potential for an anti-Christian pogrom fueled by the political tensions. Two bombs were detonated in Stone Town over the weekend, but no casualties were reported. The British Foreign Office on 31 Oct 2015 issued a travel warning that read: “Violence could escalate quickly. If you’re in Zanzibar, avoid being out on the streets and avoid traveling into the center of Stone Town.”

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