November 5, 2005

Zanzibar: Karume re-elected president in disputed poll

Zanzibar's ruling party won a third straight electoral victory in a fierce battle that has sparked mixed opinion about expected unrest. Official results released by the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) gave Karume of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party 239.832 or 53 percent of the vote against 207.773 or 46 percent polled by Hamad of the opposition Civic United Front (CUF). Zanzibar has 50 constituencies. The opposition took all seats on Pemba, while CCM won all except one constituency on Unguja. The ZEC results also showed that Karume`s ruling CCM has retained a majority in parliament, winning 30 seats against 19 for the CUF, while one seat is to be re-contested.

Hamad accused the ZEC of plunging "Zanzibar into another political crisis" and told its elected members not to co-operate with the government since he believes the government had falsified that year's results. But some view these threats as lacking any might. ''They'll make some few noises and talk and later on they will just shut up,'' said a CCM party member about the Zanzibari opposition, which is made up of CUF and the Tanzanian Labour Party.

Allegations of fraud followed both the polls of 1995 and 2000 - claims confirmed by human rights groups. A bloody clash between demonstrators and authorities occurred three months after the 2000 election. Human Rights Watch, the New York-based watchdog, said Tanzanian security forces killed 35 people and injured more than 600 while stemming opposition riots.

Already, October 30's election has culminated in the shooting death of a teenage boy, more than 20 injuries, between 70 and 75 arrests and voting discrepancies mainly in the historical Stone Town, on the fringes of the capital Zanzibar Town. Police and military routinely have showered teargas, rubber bullets and water-cannon spray on CUF demonstrators.

Some donors, who finance about 40 percent of Tanzania's budget, had warned the country would lose credibility if it did not hold free and fair elections. International and local observer groups, however, have reported the elections ran smoothly for the most part.

Zanzibaris elected to go ahead with presidential and legislative polls, which have been postponed to 18 December in mainland Tanzania because of the death of opposition vice-presidential candidate, Rajab Jumbe. (Angola Press Agency, Luanda / IPS)

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