August 16, 2004

Zanzibar: Close election forecasts raise tensions

Tension has gripped Zanzibar, with fears of political violence as each of the 17 political parties prepare for the October 2005 general election. Already the Civic United Front (CUF) has alleged that Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) is building and training youth brigades aimed at disrupting the election. CUF last week sent a petition to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) office in Dar es Salaam for onward transmission to New York, US. It is notifying the UN and asking it to prepare to send independent election observers. The CCM official however rejected the allegations.

CUF and CCM support in Zanzibar is at par and each party is trying to outdo the other. In the past two general elections - 1995 and 2000 - the difference between the two was less than two per cent. Clashes with police in the 2000 election led to the deaths of 31 people and over 2.000 fled to Mombasa, Kenya. CUF had argued that its victory was stolen by CCM. (The East African, Nairobi)

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