YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Tanzania Election Sparks Clashes

Opposition supporters in the offshore region of Zanzibar fight police and the ruling party's militia trying to truck in hundreds of voters.

October 31, 2005|From Times Wire Services

ZANZIBAR, Tanzania — A regional Tanzanian election turned violent Sunday as police and the ruling party's militia engaged in running clashes with opposition supporters in the streets of the main town in the semiautonomous region of Zanzibar.

Police fired tear gas and water cannons while party militiamen beat suspected government opponents on the edges of the old city, known as Stone Town. More than a dozen people were injured, hospital officials said.

The violence came as voters turned out in heavy numbers to choose between the socialists who have ruled the Indian Ocean archipelago for nearly 40 years and an opposition group promising wholesale economic reforms in the largely Muslim region.

The bitterly contested campaign was marred by frequent violence. The last two elections also were tainted by violence and charges of fraud.

Clashes erupted Sunday after police and the ruling party tried to truck in hundreds of people to vote at polling stations against the objections of local residents. Voting for the region's councilors, legislators and president is based on residency.

"With my own eyes I've seen these people being ferried from the countryside into town. I couldn't believe it," said Nassor Saif, the opposition's representative on the electoral commission.

When asked by journalists where they came from, the trucked-in voters covered their faces and refused to answer.

Results were not expected until later in the week, but late Sunday, the opposition Civic United Front said early results showed it had received 61.6% versus 37.2% for the ruling party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi.

Opposition presidential candidate Seif Sharif Hamad told reporters that the results were based on 66,794 votes counted at stations across the islands.

Los Angeles Times Articles