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Tanzania's Zanzibar island votes for unity goverment, trying to head off electoral violence

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (AP) — The Tanzanian island of Zanzibar has voted to form a unity government after October elections in an effort to avoid a repeat of previous electoral violence that killed dozens of people, an electoral official said Sunday.

Two thirds of the 200,000 Zanzibaris who voted in Saturday's referendum said they wanted a unity government, said Khatib Mwinyachande, the head of the electoral commission.

The party who wins the October polls will control the presidency and the two runner up parties will both provide vice presidents. The runner up parties may also be invited to nominate some ministers, depending on the results of the elections.

Previous elections in the east African island of Zanzibar, a tourist resort known for its white sand beaches and Swahili architecture, have been marred by fatal clashes between political parties that killed dozens of people.

The referendum comes after negotiations between the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi and the opposition Civic United Front. The opposition party disputed the results of the island's last 2005 poll but both parties urged Zanzibaris to vote in favor of a unity government.

Zanzibar has some degree of political autonomy from mainland Tanzania.

(This version CORRECTS spelling of electoral official's name, ADDS details)