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Zanzibar Opposition Party Complains of Election Irregularities


The presidential candidate for the main opposition party in Tanzania's semi-autonomous islands says he thinks the registration and campaign process leading up to the October 30 elections so far has not been free and fair.

The Civic United Front's Seif Sharif Hamad told reporters in Stone Town Thursday he and his party will accept defeat in Sunday's general elections if it proved that the elections were conducted according to the rules and regulations.

"We hope that the remaining stages of the election will be free and fair," he said. "And if that's the case, we shall accept the results and we shall extend our hand of cooperation to the one who has won the elections."

But, says Mr. Hamad, if it is clear that the Civic United Front, or CUF, has captured the most votes in the semi-autonomous islands, and if the Zanzibar Electoral Commission declares a victory for the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi, or CCM, then his party will stage a peaceful protest.

Mr. Hamad outlined to reporters a number of election irregularities he says have taken place and may affect the legitimacy of the results.

He says local political leaders blocked more than 12,000 people from registering, while some people registered more than once.

CUF was supposed to have received a copy of the voters' registration list two day ago, says Mr. Hamad, but has not yet been given the list.

Mr. Hamad says the CCM party set up camps for youth and trained and armed them to attack opposition supporters using crude weapons.

For its part, the ruling CCM denies claims that it is fomenting violence in Zanzibar and other areas of Tanzania, and that major irregularities have taken place.

In a recent interview on the mainland, CCM's assistant secretary for political affairs and international relations, Nape Moses Nnauye, told VOA that CUF will most likely lose the elections, which he says is why CUF candidates Ibrahim Haruna Lipumba and Mr. Hamad, are complaining.

"They are looking for excuses because they know for sure they are going to lose the election. For some of these leaders, for example, Prof. Libumba and Seif Sharif Hamad, this is their third time they are contesting, and I think they have been told that if you fail this time, then we don't need you again," he noted. "They have to look for the excuse that the election was not free and fair. If people lose the election they say it was not free and fair."

Mr. Nnauye denies that the Zanzibar Electoral Commission is biased in favor of the ruling party.

There are 18 political parties vying in Tanzania's October 30 elections, which are the third since multi-party politics was restored in Tanzania in 1992. In Zanzibar, six parties have presidential candidates, while there are 10 on the mainland.

Analysts say the main race will be between the Civic United Front and Chama Cha Mapinduzi. In Zanzibar, which is made up of three islands, relations between the two parties are tense and characterized by periodic clashes.

Zanzibar has its own president and parliament but shares a union government with the mainland. Zanzibar has jurisdiction over health, education, and others, while the mainland controls defense, finance, and others.

CCM and its predecessors have ruled Tanzania since 1964.