Zanzibar Presidential Candidate Seif Sharif Hamad has been arrested.
In a statement on Tuesday, Hamad’s ACTWazalendo party stated that the opposition politician was taken to Ziwani Police Headquarters in Zanzibar.
“Seif Sharif Hamad was apprehended at the Mtoni Garagara polling station where he went to vote as advance voting commenced this morning, ” the statement reads.
The official polling day is Wednesday, October 28, however, Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) allowed early voting for security and ZEC personnel, a move that the opposition is strongly against.
Hamad’s arrest follows a night of violence that left three people dead and many injured. He is among leaders who have condemned the violence.
“He had committed to the Zanzibar people that he would vote on today’s disputed advance voting day to lead efforts to pre-empt the rigging planned by the ruling establishment with the active connivance of the security organs, ” the party said.
The party called on the government to free Hamad and create a conducive environment for the voting exercise.
“We call upon the relevant regional and international bodies to prevail upon the Union and Zanzibar governments to Immediately stop the violent and oppressive behaviour of the security organs and create an environment conducive for the peaceful exercise of voting, ” the party added.
In the election, Hamad, who is attempting for the sixth time to be President, is contesting against Chama Cha Mapinduzi’s Hussein Ali Hassan Mwinyi, son of former Tanzanian President Ali Hassan Mwinyi.
President Ali Mohamed Shein of CCM is stepping down after serving two terms in office.
The semi-autonomous Zanzibar has been governed by the CCM since it joined with then-Tanganyika to form Tanzania in 1964.
Tanzania Mainland elections are also set for tomorrow with CCM’s President John Pombe Magufuli and opposition chief Tundu Lissu considered front runners in the presidential election.
Other presidential candidates include former Foreign Minister Bernard Membe and economist-turned-politician Ibrahim Lipumba.