Calm returned to Zanzibar today (Wednesday) after several days of tension. Yesterday, arsonists set fire to the home of opposition leader Abbas Muhunzi. He was not hurt, but his elderly father was beaten by attackers with iron bars. Earlier in the day, hundreds of people attacked a suburban registration center.
The violence pits supporters of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi, or “Revolutionary” Party, against the opposition Civic United Front, or CUV. The attacks are taking place during registration period for elections scheduled for October 23rd.
Assah Mwambene of the Daily News newspaper in Zanzibar says the situation today is calm. The Zanzibar Electoral Commission has suspended activities until tomorrow (Thursday) amid efforts to calm supporters of both parties. Mr. Mwambene told English to Africa reporter William Eagle the election is expected to be close and that some supporters believe they can reduce their opponents’ chances of winning by discouraging their followers from registering to vote. The opposition says it won the past few general elections, but that fraud on the part of the ruling party prevented it from taking power.