More protests in Zanzibar

Fighting between police and opposition supporters continued for a third straight day, as election officials said incumbent President Amani Abeid Karume had narrowly won re-election over his main challenger, Seif Sharif Hamad, in Sunday’s election.

“Hamad got 46.1 percent of the vote and Amani Abeid Karume got 53.2 percent of the vote,” Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) chairman told a news conference.

“According to the law, I declare and announce that Amani Abeid Karume has been elected as the Zanzibari president,” he said.

Earlier results showed Mr Karume’s ruling Revolutionary Party (CCM) to have held its majority in the semi-autonomous island’s parliament.

Voting claims

The announcement came just hours after Mr Hamad had proclaimed himself victorious but predicted the commission would give the polls to the CCM, which the CUF has accused of stealing the election through ballot rigging and the use of bogus voters.

“I do not accept the results,” Mr Hamad told reporters. “I have all the evidence that I won the elections. They doctored the results.”

Unofficial results compiled by the CUF gave Mr Hamad 50.38 percent of the vote against 49.62 for Mr Karume.

Mr Hamad, who has claimed the CCM stole previous elections in 1995 and 2000, vowed to make good on earlier pledges to lead mass protests and a Ukraine-style revolution in the event this year’s polls were fixed.

“The ZEC has planted Zanzibar into another political crisis,” he said. “We are not accepting (the results), we are going to demonstrate at a date that will be determined later.”

Protests continue

Earlier, police had fired tear gas and stun grenades at a crowd of CUF supporters in clashes that have become a regular occurrence since Sunday’s election and have injured at least 33 people, including two with gunshot wounds.

On the island of Pemba, the smaller of Zanzibar’s two main isles, at least one person was killed in apparent election-related violence on Tuesday, according to an international aid group working there.

The CUF said it had witness reports of five people, including two police officers, being killed on Pemba, but a police spokesman on the island said he was unaware of any deaths.

A heavy security presence remained deployed on the islands which erupted into violence that killed more than 30 people after the last elections in 2000, also disputed by the CUF.

Fears of a possible repeat of such unrest soared after Tuesday’s developments despite generally positive assessments of the polls from international observers.

Election monitors

Monitors from the African Union, the Commonwealth club of former British colonies, the South African Development Community and the United States all noted improvements in the election process over previous years.

On Tuesday, US observers from the National Democratic Institute did express concern about irregularities, including apparent ballot casting by bogus voters at some polling stations, and the use of “excessive force” by police.

But they stressed that these would not necessarily distort the will of the electorate.

The US embassy in Tanzania warned American citizens on Zanzibar to stay at home until the situation cooled.

“We wish to underline that this remains a highly volatile situation that could erupt into widespread violence with no warning,” it said in a notice.

Zanzibaris were electing a president, parliament and local councillors in Sunday’s polls after violent campaign marked with clashes that injured nearly 200 people.

The CCM has dominated Tanzanian politics for more than 40 years but had faced a stiff challenge from the CUF on Zanzibar, an opposition stronghold where distrust of the mainland runs high.

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