Opposition to boycott Zanzibar election rerun

Zanzibar - Zanzibar's main opposition party said on Thursday it would not take part in a planned rerun of last year's elections in Tanzania's semi-autonomous islands which were scrapped after alleged irregularities.

Calling the fresh elections due on March 20 unconstitutional and reiterating its claim of victory in the October poll, the Civic United Front (CUF) said it would boycott the vote.

"We are not going to take part in the elections... and we kindly ask other Zanzibaris, particularly those who respect rule of law and democracy, also to boycott the fresh elections," the CUF said in a statement.

"Elections are over, held in 2015, we want our victory back," the party said after a two-day meeting.

The October 25 elections, which were held across Tanzania, were scrapped on Zanzibar after the islands' election commission reported "violations of electoral law", claims dismissed by the opposition.

The annulment came after CUF candidate, Seif Sharif Hamad, declared himself the winner before the results were officially announced.

Mohamed Aboud Mohamed, Zanzibar's minister for elections and internal affairs, has dismissed opposition threats to boycott saying, "the planned fresh polls will be held with or without opposition."

The rerun will cost an estimated $3.4m, according to the Zanzibar Election Commission (ZEC).

Zanzibar's 500 000 registered voters also cast ballots for Tanzania's national president, and despite the cancellation of the vote on the islands, new Tanzanian President John Magufuli was sworn into office last year.

Zanzibar President Ali Mohamed Shien of the long-ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) - the same party as Magufuli - remains in power until the polls are held.

Tanzania's vice-president, Samia Suluhu Hassan, the first woman ever to hold the post, comes from Zanzibar.