January 12, 2016 / 1:31 PM / 3 years ago

Zanzibar president says regional vote re-run to go ahead

Germany's President Joachim Gauck (L) is met by Zanzibar's President Ali Mohamed Shein (C) upon his arrival in the Indian Ocean island off the coast of Tanzania's mainland February 4, 2015. REUTERS/Stringe

DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) - The president of Zanzibar said on Tuesday that a re-run of the vote for a new leader of the islands, a semi-autonomous region of Tanzania, would go ahead despite calls by the opposition to scrap the plan.

Zanzibar’s leader Ali Mohammed Shein did not announce a date, which will be set by the election commission. It is expected to take place in February.

Tanzania has been one of Africa’s most politically stable nations but Zanzibar has been a hotbed of opposition to central government, with strong secessionist and Islamist voices. Votes on the islands are usually closely fought and often disputed.

The main opposition Civic United Front (CUF) party said on Monday that violence could erupt on the archipelago if the government holds fresh elections, after the October vote was annulled by the election commission on grounds of fraud.

The CUF said it won the poll and said dialogue to form a government of all parties should be held rather than a new vote.

“The election will be repeated,” Shein told a ceremony to mark 52 years since the African majority on the Indian Ocean islands overthrew their then Arab rulers. “The government will take action against anyone who tries to disturb the peace.”

Security was tighter than usual around Zanzibar’s president, a member of Tanzania’s ruling CCM party. Shein’s term was extended after the elections were cancelled.

Zanzibar’s CUF has said the election cancellation was unconstitutional.

Tanzania’s new president, John Magufuli, is also a member of CCM and has promised to work with leaders from both sides of the conflict in Zanzibar to resolve the impasse. He attended the ceremony held at a stadium.

Editing by Edmund Blair and Tom Heneghan

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