Although election observers said on Wednesday that the Tanzanian general elections were largely peaceful, shooting and massive detention of opposition supporters was reported in semi-autonomous Zanzibar island.
In a statement early on Tuesday, the ACT-Wazalendo party said its veteran candidate for Zanzibar’s presidency, Seif Sharif Hamad, was detained at a polling station after going to cast his ballot in advanced voting.
It also said nine people had been shot dead by security forces since Monday. Eight died on the island of Pemba, it said, after clashes between security forces and people who had been trying to stop the army distributing ballot boxes on Monday which they suspected contained pre-ticked votes.
ACT-Wazalendo said police fired tear gas at the demonstrators and then “resorted to live ammunition”.
The Police however, said they had no information about any deaths.
There were youths who started violence when we were offloading ballot boxes; they started throwing stones,” Tanzanian police chief Simon Sirro told reporters.
US Ambassador Donald Wright expressed concerns that there were “reports from Zanzibar and elsewhere of violence, deaths and detentions”.
“Security forces must show restraint, and the NEC (National Electoral Commission) & ZEC (Zanzibar Electoral Commission) must carry out their duties with integrity,” Ambassador Donald Wright said in a Twitter post.
“It appears thousands of polling agents have either been prevented from accessing polling stations or been kicked out of the polling stations after voting started,” said main opposition challenger, Lissu of the Chadema party.
The leading opposition candidate Lissu called on Tanzanians to reject any unfair outcome. “If the integrity of the elections is undermined or jeopardized, the people should take mass democratic action and protest country-wide.”
Zanzibar, an Indian Ocean archipelago, is a semi-autonomous state of the East African country of Tanzania and both have held polls to elect their presidents and lawmakers in Wednesday’s election.