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Zanzibar voters approve amendment creating power-sharing government

Zanzibar election officials announced Sunday that voters have approved a constitutional amendment creating a coalition government. The amendment, approved by 66.4 percent of voters [AFP report], will create two vice-presidential seats in the hopes of reliving political tensions between Zanzibar's rival parties ahead of the October 31 general elections. The seats will be allocated to the parties finishing first and second in the polls. Both the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) [party website] party, which took power after disputed elections in 2005, and the Civic United Front (CUF) [LI backgrounder] opposition party welcomed the results [Reuters report] of the referendum in which 71.9 percent of the eligible voting populace participated.

The outcome of the referendum places Zanzibar among the small but growing group of African nations that have negotiated power-sharing accords after experiencing disputed elections. Both Zimbabwe and Kenya signed power-sharing agreements after disputed elections in 2008, and rival factions in Madagascar [JURIST reports] agreed to form a unity government in 2009. Zanzibar, a semi-autonomous territory of Tanzania, will set itself apart from Kenya, Zimbabwe and Madagascar, by enshrining the new form of government in its constitution.

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