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Friday, 30 November, 2001, 14:36 GMT
Zanzibar accord on the rocks
Zanzibar
Tourism has been hit by political violence
A political agreement reached last month between Tanzania's ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party and the opposition Civic United Front (CUF) to end years of political tension in Zanzibar appears to be in tatters.

After months of dialogue, the two sides signed an accord in October in the presence of the presidents of both the Tanzanian Union and Zanzibar.

Election violence in Zanzibar
Post-election violence left more than 20 dead

In an attempt to resolve their differences, the two parties had agreed to reform the Zanzibari Electoral Commission, the judiciary and set up an implementation committee to oversee the agreement.

But on Thursday, Zanzibar's House of Representative tabled a bill setting up the cross-party commission and the opposition were not happy.

The CUF said they would not recognise this bill because the Zanzibari Government has unilaterally amended the text of what was a joint accord.

Tensions

The islands have been extremely tense since controversial elections last year and the killing of at least 22 opposition protesters by the police in January.

After the killings, some 2,000 CUF supporters fled the opposition stronghold of Pemba in fear of reprisals for their part in demonstrations.

After making it to Kenya, most ended up in a refugee camp in the north-eastern region of Dadaab.

But hopes were raised by the deal and according to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), by the beginning of November the last of the refugees had returned to Pemba.

Disputed deal

Earlier this month Zanzibari Attorney General Iddi Pandu Hassan was quoted in the press as saying that the government would not be tied down by all the accord's clauses.

The CUF issued a threat then to pull out of the agreement rather than see it compromised.

Professor Ibrahim Lipumba, National Chairman of the CUF, was quoted in the local press as saying: "If the accord would not be implemented as agreed, CUF would have no option but to let the general public decide the future."

This sentiment was echoed by CUF Central Committee member Machano Hamis who threatend demonstrations if the accord was amended.

Support

The fragile accord is still backed by human rights groups who view the move as progress, as it involves the establishment of an inquiry into the January killings.

President Mkapa
Zanzibar remains a headache for President Mkapa

This week, Amnesty International showed its support in a press release. "The decision to set up an inquiry into the January demonstration violence is an important step for the future of human rights in Tanzania," it said.

However, the organisation stressed that it was important that "the inquiry is fully independent, established without delay and carried out in accordance with international human rights standards"

But Thursday's unilateral action by Zanzibar's government is threatening to scupper the entire process.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
By Ali Saleh in Zanzibar
The opposition object to any changes to the agreement

Key stories

EYEWITNESS SPECIAL

TALKING POINT
See also:

01 Nov 00 | Africa
Zanzibar election probe
23 Apr 01 | Africa
Zanzibar refugees in stand-off
25 Jul 01 | Africa
Timeline: Tanzania
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