Zanzibar could be headed back to the polls

Image: AP
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A week after the electoral commission annulled its presidential and parliamentary results, it looks like Zanzibar will have a rerun of the polls soon.

This comes after news that the incumbent president, Ali Mohamed Shein, whose first term was meant to come to an end on Monday (Nov. 2), will stay on in office until fresh elections are held. The date for when the vote will be held has yet to be made public.

Meanwhile, Seif Sharif Hamad, the main opposition presidential candidate, seemed to indicate that a solution to the current stalemate will soon be found. Hamad, who preemptively declared himself the winner last week, urged his supporters to be calm. He said that his party was negotiating a way forward with political leaders and members of the international community.

The semi-autonomous archipelago has been plunged into a political crisis since the chairman of the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) wrote off the election on Oct. 28, claiming the process had been marred by widespread irregularities. Zanzibar has a history of disputed elections and post-election violence. While things have remained relatively calm thus far, the discovery of an explosive device near the offices of the opposition over the weekend point to the fragility of the situation.

Zanzibar is a part of the republic of Tanzania but has its own government and votes for its own president and parliament. Tanzania, east Africa’s largest economy, held its general elections on Oct. 25 and John Magufuli emerged the victor, defeating former prime minister Edward Lowassa.