Tanzania army to meet Zanzibar opposition over island's election crisis

Outgoing Tanzania president Jakaya Kikwete says concerned, directs talks after poll was dramatically nullified .

OUTGOING Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete has instructed his office to facilitate talks between Chief of the Armed Forces Davis Mwamunyange and officials of the main opposition party in Zanzibar, the Civic United Front.

Kikwete has also instructed the Inspector-General of Police Ernest Mango to investigate “complaints by CUF about some actions from some sections of the police force in Zanzibar,” according to a statement e-mailed late Sunday by the Tanzanian presidency.

“State House would like to confirm that President Kikwete is as concerned about the political and security situation in Zanzibar as every Tanzanian, and has been working tirelessly and consulting widely over the last few days to find amicable and peaceful resolution to the situation in Zanzibar,” according to the statement.

Zanzibar Electoral Commission Chairman Jecha Salim Jecha on October 28 nullified elections in the semi-autonomous island after the CUF presidential candidate in this year’s general elections in Zanzibar Seif Shariff Hamad declared himself winner of the October 25 poll. 

READ: Blows, tears and jeers as Zanzibar vote cancelled in Tanzania polls; opposition wants entire election scrapped

Zanzibar has experienced sectarian and political tensions in recent years—including several grenade explosions—with the unrest affecting the islands’ key tourist industry. 

There have also been wider tensions around Zanzibar’s union with the mainland, with some opposition political parties wanting to break ties and return to independence. 

The long ruling CCM has vowed to maintain the status quo, but the CUF had promised to campaign for full autonomy if it won.

(Bloomberg)

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