ZANZIBAR, Tanzania (AP) — The political future of Zanzibar, a semiautonomous archipelago off the cost of Tanzania, was thrown into doubt Wednesday when its election commission chief nullified results of an election that the opposition claimed it had won.
The results were scrapped because of several issues, Jecha Salim announced without saying when new elections will take place.
Tanzania was formed when Zanzibar and its northern island, Pemba, united with mainland Tanganyika in April 1964, three months after the islands’ black majority overthrew the traditional Arab rulers. But for years, many have felt that Zanzibar, and its ancient capital Stone Town, have been relegated to second-class status.
On Monday, Zanzibar presidential candidate Maalim Seif Hamad of the Civic United Front, the main opposition party, claimed that he had won, days before the official results were to be released. Armed police were then deployed in Stone Town to break up crowds of opposition supporters who had gathered to celebrate. Helmeted police made some arrests.
The Civic United Front has tried for years to win control of Zanzibar’s local government from the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (Revolutionary Party), narrowly losing the last election in 2010
On mainland Tanzania, the results for the general and presidential elections are expected Thursday. It is the most tightly contested race since Tanganyika became independent from Britain in 1961.
In the race for the president of all Tanzania, the ruling party’s candidate is Works Minister John Magufuli. He is challenged by former Prime Minister Edward Lowassa, who used to be a high-ranking member of the ruling party until he defected to the opposition after failing to win the ruling party’s presidential nomination.
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