The Guardian
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Zanzibar votes in re-run election




Voting began in Zanzibar on Sunday with security tight and an opposition boycott in place for the re-run of October’s election in Tanzania’s semi-autonomous islands, cancelled due to fraud allegations.

The Zanzibar Election Commission (ZEC) cancelled the results of the first poll but diplomats said they saw no evidence of the “massive fraud” alleged.

Most polling stations opened on time at 7:00 am (0400 GMT), with voters lining up peacefully but turnout was expected to be low in opposition strongholds after the Civic United Front (CUF) urged its supporters not to participate.

“I am happy to vote again. We will record a landslide victory,” said Amina Hassan, a supporter of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party which backs the re-run.

But opposition member Yussuf Juma dismissed the election as a sham. “It is a waste of time and resources to vote again. We listened to our leaders not to vote and we have decided to stay away,” he said.

Incumbent President Ali Mohamed Shein was among the first to cast a vote in Stone Town, the historic centre of the capital Zanzibar City.

“I am happy to have exercised my democratic right,” Shein said. “It is wrong for the opposition to boycott, but it is their freedom to do so.”

The ZEC said there had been no delays in the delivery of ballot boxes and papers and said both local and African observers were in place, although those from the EU had stayed away.

The annulment of October’s presidential and legislative elections in Zanzibar came after opposition CUF candidate Seif Sharif Hamad declared himself the winner before results were officially announced.

CUF leaders say the move in Tanzania’s semi-autonomous islands was designed to block their party’s victory and deliver another win for the CCM which dominates on the Tanzania mainland.

With Hamad boycotting, Shein faces no serious challengers among the dozen other candidates.

Some 500,000 registered voters in Zanzibar were also eligible to cast ballots in the October polls for Tanzania’s national president and, despite the cancelation of the vote on the islands, new Tanzanian President John Magufuli was sworn in last year.

Polls are due to close at 4:00 pm (1300 GMT) with results expected as early as Monday.

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