President Amour has put much speculation to rest by announcing that he will not try to have the constitution of Zanzibar changed to enable him to stand for a third term as President in the 2000 elections.

Following the resumption of normal functioning of the House of Representatives (after signing of the June 9, 1999 agreement between the CCM and opposition Civic United Front (CUF) parties -see Tanzanian Affairs No 64) President Amour said to MP’s on July 28 “I am overjoyed in seeing tolerance among you during this entire budget session of parliament. The accord was a historic milestone towards peace and reconciliation” .

The Daily News reported on November 2 that the Commonwealth Secretariat, which had negotiated the agreement, had set May 2000 as the deadline for its implementation. The first step was the setting up of a 14¬≠member Inter-Party Committee (IPC) of the House of Representatives. The CCM and CUF chairmen of the IPC (Haje Mkema and Abubakar Bakari respectively) announced that six consultants (three foreign and three Tanzanian), appointed by the Commonwealth to review the constitution, election laws, electoral commission and judiciary had started work on November 2 and had been given one month to submit their proposals. But, according to the Daily News, the government had made it clear that it would only implement proposals it found palatable because the IPC had no legal powers to force it to ‘swallow all proposals’ .

British High Commissioner Bruce Dinwiddy during a visit to meet President Amour in mid-August last year called on Zanzibar to speed up the trial of the 18 CUF activists who have been in custody for two years on charges of treason. He said that this long detention without trial was damaging the reputation of Zanzibar and the human rights record of Tanzania in the eyes of the world as the accused had been declared ‘prisoners of conscience’ by Amnesty International. Talking to the Swedish Ambassador (whose government refuses to resume aid to Zanzibar until the treason case is resolved) on August 17, President Amour said that the government would ensure that the treason case would be expedited and fairly handled. He questioned why the case was connected to aid provision. He said it was a legal matter and even the Commonwealth-brokered agreement had been silent on the issue. On December 3 the newspaper ‘Mtanzania’ quoted a government spokesman as saying that the treason trial would take its course without internal or external interference. It would be unconstitutional for the government or President to interfere with the judiciary. On December 30 OAU Secretary General Salim Ahmed Salim added his voice to the chorus of criticism of what was going on. “We must admit that justice delayed is justice denied” he said. He added that the delay was tarnishing the country’s Image.

As long ago as September 10 the Guardian had quoted State House spokesman Geoffrey Nkurlu as saying that hearing of the treason trial would start soon but at the end of 1999 it had still not started. The same paper later quoted Zanzibar Attorney General, Mohamed Ali Omar, as having wondered why the police had not yet arrested the main CUF leaders -Vice-Chairman Seif Sharrif Hamad and Secretary General Shabaan Mloo -in addition to the 18 already held. The Attorney General said that the leaders had been mentioned by some of the 18 suspects in the case during investigations. “One cannot arrest the dancer without the drummers” he was quoted as saying. Both CUF leaders then declared that they were ready to be arrested. The Director of Criminal Investigations was then said to have denied that he had received orders to arrest Hamad and Mloo and eight others who had also been mentioned. A CUF spokesman said that these contradictory statements by government were designed to further delay the case. On September 22 Union Minister for Home Affairs, Ali Ameir Mohamed (who is from Zanzibar) told the Guardian that he was surprised that the trial had not yet started. He added that law enforcers would be summoned to explain why they were not executing orders which would enable the trial to start. On December 29 the Swahili paper Majira quoted Zanzibar Chief Justice Harnid Mahamoud Hamid as saying that the trial would start before the end of February 2000. It could take place only after the present session of the Appeal Court had finished. Some 61 prosecution witnesses were said to have been lined up. The paper thought that one of Zanzibar’s Nigerian judges would hear the case.

The Swahili press reported on November 16 that the 18 accused had written to participants in the Commonwealth Conference in Durban, which was attended by 45 heads of Government, accusing them of failing to put pressure on the Zanzibar government to speed up their trial. They were quoted as saying that, while the Commonwealth had taken a tough stand on minimal human rights abuses in Kenya and Zambia, the organisation didn’t seem to care about their predicament ~ they had been languishing in prison for two years without their case being heard. They said that Tanzania should be suspended from the Commonwealth Club.

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