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Zanzibar's losing candidate joins islands' coalition

By | November 3rd 2010

By Ally Saleh

ZANZIBAR, Nov 2 (Reuters)

The defeated candidate in the presidential contest on Tanzania's semi-autonomous islands of Zanzibar has said the vote was unfair, but he accepted a position in a coalition government to avoid a violent standoff.

In the 2000 election 35 people died and there were allegations of vote rigging, as there were in the 2005 vote.

Seif Sharif Hamad said his fourth consecutive election defeat was down to failings in the voting system but called on his supporters to act with restraint and to pack up their makeshift camps outside tallying centres.

"The results we are having today are a culmination of glaring flaws in our electoral system," said Hamad, of the Civic United Front (CUF), who becomes a largely ceremonial first vice president, said in a speech late on Monday.

"Zanzibar needs to heal."

Ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) candidate Ali Mohamed Shein won by fewer than 4,000 votes.

On mainland Tanzania, President Jakaya Kikwete of the CCM took an early lead as results from the 239 constituencies in east Africa's second largest economy trickled in.

In the parliamentary election, which ran alongside the presidential ballot, Kikwete's CCM picked up 43 seats from the 70 constituencies counted, state television said. The leading opposition party, Chadema, had won 13 seats and the CUF 11 seats.

Zanzibar's constitution was amended earlier this year to force rival parties to share power by forming a coalition government to avert more bloodshed.

"The Government of National Unity will help in this, but I urge president elect Dr. Shein to refrain from taking bad advice from people surrounding him, and he should understand that all Zanzibaris are equal and all have a stake in the government."

Shein won after polling 179,809 votes, or 50.1 percent, while Hamad garnered 176,338 votes, Zanzibar's Electoral Commission said.

Five other parties took part in the vote, the fourth since multi-party politics were re-introduced in Zanzibar in 1992.

"I want to lead a true government of national unity and I will work closely with the opposition to achieve this," president-elect Shein said.

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