Since then a pattern of arrests, riots and unrest has dogged the islands culminating the deaths of several protesters and one policeman earlier this month.
With its population of one million people split between the two main islands of Unguja and Pemba, Zanzibar is no stranger to political violence.
Shortly after independence from Britain in 1963 the black African islanders, many of them descendants of slaves traded through the archipelago, overthrew the Arab Sultan of Zanzibar.
A year later its new leaders declared union with mainland Tanganyika – creating Tanzania.
A religious charity which historically confined itself to propagating Islam but has recently entered the political realm with its own brand of faith-based populism.