Tanzanian police have arrested several youths in semi-autonomous Zanzibar who were blocking roads in protest at a local election being scrapped after the opposition said it won, the police commissioner said today. Zanzibar's opposition claimed victory after Sunday's vote for a president on the archipelago, held as part of nationwide elections in Tanzania. But the local election commission scrapped the Zanzibar presidential vote, citing "gross violations". Zanzibar's main opposition party, the Civic United Front, said it was a ploy to avoid conceding defeat. Fresh elections will now be held. "We arrested several suspects yesterday night at two separate areas in Zanzibar when some youths started gathering on the streets and blocked roads after the Zanzibar electoral body announced the nullification of the presidential election," Zanzibar police commissioner Hamdani Omar Makame told Reuters. Makame did not give number for those arrested but he said the situation was now calm. "Police are patrolling the streets to make sure there is peace and security," he said by telephone. Zanzibar voted along with the rest of Tanzania, which held its most hotly contested presidential elections in more than five decades over the weekend. As well as facing the usual strong opposition in Zanzibar, the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) has faced a tough challenge on the Tanzanian mainland. Zanzibar has traditionally been a hotbed of opposition to central government with loud Islamist and separatists voices. In the national vote, opposition parties united to field a single candidate for the first time. Tanzania has been one of Africa's most politically stable nations since independence in 1961. Tanzania's opposition presidential candidate Edward Lowassa on Wednesday called for a recount of the weekend election for the national presidency, citing voting irregularities. The winner of the national presidential vote is expected to be announced later today. The ruling CCM part has said its candidate John Magufuli has won. The CCM also says it is on track to retain its majority in parliament.
Tanzania's election commission said the annulment in Zanzibar would not affect the overall vote. Its figures so far have given CCM in a lead in the presidential and parliamentary vote.
The United States said it was "gravely alarmed" by the decision to scrap the Zanzibar vote and called for the decision to be reversed. Britain, which once ruled Tanzania, also said it was deeply concerned by the move.REUTERS SHS AS1719
-- (Reuters) -- C-1-1-DL0329-411200.Xml