Officials in Tanzania's Zanzibar region have nullified results from Sunday's election, a move that could affect the outcome of the national presidential poll.
Zanzibar's election commission said Wednesday the results were annulled because of "gross violations" in the voting process. Commission chairman Jecha Salim said there is a need to hold fresh elections in the archipelago.
Semi-autonomous Zanzibar has its own government but its votes count in the Tanzania presidential election. Partial results from that race, released Tuesday, showed ruling party candidate John Magufuli leading his main opponent Edward Lowassa 56 to 42 percent.
The nullification is also likely to raise tension on Zanzibar, where a local opposition party claimed victory on Monday, before results were announced.
The polls for president, parliament and local seats are expected to be the closest in Tanzanian history, with the ruling CCM party facing its first major challenge in decades. Several cabinet ministers have lost their parliamentary seats.
Main opposition party Chadema has alleged the polls were rigged.
The CCM has faced increasing pressure to speed up the country's development and deal with a persistently high poverty rate.
President Jakaya Kikwete is stepping down after completing two five-year terms, as allowed by the constitution. Tanzania has a long history of presidents observing term limits, unlike many other African countries.
Free and fair
Commission chairman Judge Damian Lubuva expressed confidence Sunday that the electoral process will be judged free and fair, despite reported problems at some polling stations in the country.
Appearing on a live VOA Swahili broadcast, Judge Lubuva admitted there were some discrepancies at some polling stations, including lack of voting materials, but he said there will be no repeat voting exercises, except in constituents where the process was postponed.