ZANZIBAR – COMMONWEALTH INITIATIVE ADJOURNED

The high hopes of the Commonwealth Secretariat, which has been trying for two years to bring about a settlement between government and opposition in Zanzibar (see TA No 61), seem to have been dashed once again. According to an article in the East African on November 16 by Salim Salim, (a former Press Secretary to the present leader ofthe opposition Civic United Front (CUF) Seif Sharrif Hamad, Zanzibar President Salmin Amour has ‘demonstrated once again that he is not prepared to come to terms with the opposition party’. The President was quoted as saying that no foreigner, be he an individual or an organisation, could bring harmony to the islands. The President was also said to have brushed aside an appeal by Tanzanian Vice-President, Dr Omar Ali Juma (himself a Zanzibari) made on the same platform two days earlier, for Zanzibar’s leaders to give full support to the Commonwealth peace initiative. Dr Juma was quoted in the Guardian as saying that the efforts of Commonwealth Secretary General Chief Emeka Anyaoku were never directed towards uniting CCM and CUF and by no means aimed at establishing a coalition government. The Chief had felt that an opening had to be made somewhere to start engaging them in dialogue.

However, President Mkapa has again praised Dr. Amour for his firm stand against ‘opposition manoeuvres aimed at causing mistrust among the people’.

According to the Daily News, Seif Shariff Hamad announced to the CUF General Council at a meeting in Dar es Salaam on August 9, that CUF would recognise the government of Dr Amour and was ending its boycott of the Zanzibar Assembly ‘for the benefit of all Zanzibaris’. The CUF National Congress agreed unanimously to sign compromise protocols proposed by the Commonwealth. Seif Shariff claimed that, under the proposed agreement, the Electoral Commission would be disbanded and a new one formed including neutral members; new voters lists would be drawn up; the Zanzibar constitution could be reviewed; some special seats in the House of Assembly would be made available to CUF; President Amour would submit a list of person whose houses had been destroyed; sacked students and civil servants would be reinstated; treason suspects would be set free. He asked his members to be patient and to avoid confrontation.

But President Amour clearly sees that he is winning the battle. He told a large crowd on August 22 that CUF was politically finished and was now at the mercy of the rank and file of the CCM. He accused CUF of being engaged in all sorts of political trickery and deceit in Pemba by telling the people there that the time had come for the Isles to have a President from Pemba. Referring to the negotiations under Commonwealth auspices he said that CUF had rejected Dr Anyaoku’s recommendations three times. ‘There would not be a government of national unity.

Chief Anyaoku announced in a message from Kuala Lumpur, where he was attending the Commonwealth Games, that he was adjourning talks on the package of proposals he had made in March 1998 for a solution of the problem (which had been accepted unanimously by CUF) ‘to allow CCM to complete its deliberations on them’. The CCM was due to respond by not later than its Central Committee meeting on October 10. CCM had set up a special seven-member committee to study the proposals but on October 11 the Guardian reported that the said meeting did not take place.

The latest session of the Zanzibar House of Assembly (in October) was held in Pemba -the first time it has been held in the island since the 1995 elections in which CUF won all the seats

TREASON TRIAL

The treason trial of 18 CUF leaders on charges of treason has now been going on for more than a year and the preliminary enquiry has been adjourned 25 times to enable the police to finalise their investigations.

On August 4 there was a legal wrangle on procedures and efforts were made to persuade the Attorney General to brief the court on the evidence he had so far collected. The Prosecutor, Police Superintendent Patric Biatao, said that the Attorney General was reluctant to send an affidavit or a state attorney to shed light on the evidence because the court had not informed him in writing. The defence regarded this as a flimsy excuse. A ruling on what to do next was postponed because the magistrate fell ill.

On August 18 the Magistrate gave the Attorney General 10 days to present an affidavit to explain how far he had got with the evidence and why four parliamentarians had been arrested among the 18 accused without following procedures. On September 1 affidavits were produced which said that in the case of the four MP’s the Attorney General had given his consent within a day of each arrest, in accordance with the law. One had been charged with organising an illegal demonstration, two were charged with inciting the public and Juma Duni MP with importing army uniforms. The defence team questioned every aspect of the affidavits and, after taking a one hour leave to consult legal books, Senior Superintendant of Police John Kimario asked for more time to consult the Attorney General. On September 29 the defence continued to challenge the AG’s affidavit saying that his consent to the arrest of the four seemed to have been given after they were arrested.

On October 13 the court ordered the AG to state within a week whether he had given consent to the arrest of the four. The court also ordered the prosecution to show cause why the hearings of the trial proper should not begin in the absence of additional suspects and to state how much more time it needed to complete investigations.

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