Zanzibar President Extends Term Amidst Political Crisis
Zanzibar President Ali Mohamed Shein has extended his term in power over the semi-autonomous archipelago after elections were cancelled last week.
The CCM leader looked to have lost the election when rival Seif Sharif Hamad declared himself the winner. However, the results were nullified on the grounds of fraud – a move that sparked violence across the main island of Zanzibar.
Opposition leaders call for calm
Troops are patrolling the island’s capital after two bombs were detonated over the weekend. No casualties were reported from the incident and it hasn’t yet been confirmed whether the blast were directly related to the elections.
Opposition leader Hamad had previously threatened to call for protests if the decision to annul the election wasn’t reversed. However, the Ukawa candidate has now called on opposition supporters to keep calm.
“I ask CUF fans and Zanzibaris to remain calm and observe peace – diplomatic efforts have been going on well,” Hamad said. “Let us be patient, as the international community is also helping to have Zanzibar’s political crisis resolved.”
African and other international bodies have already expressed concern of the nullification of elections in Tanzania. The islands have been home to growing political tension in recent years and leaders have been urged to put their differences aside for the sake of peace.
The islands are a popular tourist destination and the economy largely relies on a regular influx of tourists. Tanzania’s outgoing president Jakaya Kikwete announced plans to meet opposition leaders and negotiate a solution to the growing political crisis on the semi-autonomous islands.