Zanzibar President Sworn in After Controversial Election, Warns Against Violence

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Zanzibar President Dr Ali Mohamed Shein has been sworn in for his second term as leader of the semi-autonomous archipelago, following a controversial election rerun.

The re-elected president won his second contested election in the space of five months, after the original October 25 polls descended into chaos. The rerun elections were eventually boycotted by the opposition, who refused to acknowledge the president’s victory, before the results were even announced.

 

President warns against violence

Despite continued tension surrounding the Zanzibar elections, reports suggest the rerun was largely peaceful. A low turnout following last year’s first effort could have something to do with that; combined with the heavy presence of security officials after violence broke out in October.

The situation remains tense, however, after the main opposition party Civic United Front (CUF) boycotted the polls, urging its supporters not to vote.  The party has refused to acknowledge the president’s victory and deemed the election process as “illegal”.

The president now faces the challenge of establishing a joint government with the opposition, in-line with the country’s constitution. He promised to work closely with the political parties involved, but gave a clear warning against violence following his victory.

“As I form a new government, I appeal to everybody to play their role in building Zanzibar, and I will have zero tolerance on people who attempt to cause instability,” he said at his inauguration.

 

Closure, all eyes on stability

In October, CUF candidate Seif Sharif Hamad declared himself winner of the first elections before results were released – which later announced Dr Shein the winner. Chaos broke out across the isles and the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) nullified the polls.

With the backing of the ZEC this time around, the election rerun confirms Dr Shein will remain in office for another five years. So, whether the opposition supports the result, Zanzibar finally gets closure on its controversial elections, turning all eyes on returning to stability.

 

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