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Election-Related Violence in Zanzibar

The ruling and opposition parties in semi-autonomous Zanzibar are blaming one another for election-related violence during campaigning for Tanzania's October 30th elections. At least two dozen people were injured.

Rival supporters of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi Party and the opposition Civic United Front clashed following campaign rallies on Sunday.

A ruling party spokesman, Ali Buai, says opposition supporters instigated the violence by throwing stones at a crowd of ruling party supporters, injuring 14 people.

"The Civic United Front, their members, they did it, because, all the time, we are insisting (on) peace and stability in our country, but they are quite different," said Buai. "All the time, they are thinking about chaos."

But Civic United Front official Mohammed Khelef Ghassani says followers of the ruling party sparked the violence, hurting 10 opposition supporters.

"We are encouraging our people to be peaceful and to participate in this exercise of election peacefully, not to instigate any violence," said Ghassani.

Sunday's clash highlighted long-standing tensions between the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi and the Civic United Front, particularly in semi-autonomous Zanzibar, which is made up of the islands of Zanzibar, Pemba, and Unguja.

Following defeats in the 1995 and 2000 elections, the opposition party accused the ruling party of electoral fraud, sparking clashes in Zanzibar in 2000 that killed several-dozen people.

Chama Cha Mapinduzi has ruled Tanzania for more than 40 years.

Zanzibar united with mainland Tanganyika in 1964 to form Tanzania. While the popular tourist destination has its own president, Cabinet and parliament, the mainland has jurisdiction over certain areas, including defense, immigration and foreign affairs.

Tanzania's election is scheduled for October 30th.