U.S. agency freezes $473 million aid to Tanzania over Zanzibar election


A U.S. aid agency has cancelled nearly $500 million (350.17 million pounds) of funding for Tanzania after disputed elections in the Zanzibar archipelago of the east African country.

The U.S. government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) said the March 20 vote in semi-autonomous Zanzibar violated Tanzania’s commitment to democracy and free and fair elections.

The agency’s board said Tanzania has “engaged in a pattern of actions inconsistent with MCC’s eligibility criteria”, and it had voted to suspend its partnership with the government.

A Tanzanian government official said the cancelled U.S. funding was marginal and would not have a direct impact on the government’s upcoming 2016/17 budget.

Tanzania won a five-year package of grants in 2008 worth $698 million from MCC, an independent U.S. government foreign aid agency, but the award of a second round of grants has now been shelved.

The first round funded water, roads and power projects. The cancelled aid, worth $472.8 million, was largely intended for the energy sector.

The ruling party candidate in Zanzibar was on March 21 declared the winner of a disputed presidential election that was boycotted by the main opposition Civic United Front party.

The election was a re-run of previous polls held on Oct. 25 that were annulled by Zanzibar’s electoral authority on grounds of fraud. The opposition contested the decision to hold another vote, saying it had won the first one.

MCC said the repeat of the Zanzibar vote was neither inclusive nor representative.