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Wednesday, 30 January, 2002, 01:30 GMT
Zanzibar remembers its dead
Supporters of opposition party, CUF demonstrating in the streets of Pemba
CUF supporters hold peaceful demonstrations in Pemba
By Christine Otieno on Pemba Island

The Zanzibar island of Pemba has marked the first anniversary since police opened fire on an opposition Civic United Front march, killing more than 27 people.

Pemba residents describe 27 January 2001 as the worst day in their history. Supporters of the CUF had taken to the streets to demonstrate against the government for election irregularities on the island.


We will put in place a structure that will advance democratic change not only in Zanzibar but in Tanzania as a whole

Professor Ibrahim Lipumba
CUF Chairman
The day of the commemoration dawned grey and matched the mood of the procession that snaked its way across the main street of Chake Chake.

Wave after wave of people mostly dressed in traditional Muslim attire filed quietly into the main football ground to remember their dead relatives and friends.

It seemed as if the whole island had turned out with over 10,000 people thronged in the streets.

Black shirts

The procession was led by the leaders of CUF, Professor Ibrahim Lipumba, the chairman and his secretary general Seif Shariff Hamad, dressed in black shirts.

At the Isles football ground, Professor Limbumba raised a red flag with a drawing of a black AK 47 assault rifle at the centre, to commemorate the event.

Sherif Hamad, CUF Secretary General
Sherif Hamad's opposition party vows to fight for democracy in Tanzania

Addressing CUF supporters, the party chairman said that the flag symbolised the mode in which those who died met their deaths.

"The importance of this event is to commemorate those who died last year but also because as a direct result, we have advanced as a party", he told the crowd.

"We have reached an accord with CCM. If all that we have agreed with CCM is implemented, we will put in place a structure that will advance democratic change not only in Zanzibar but in Tanzania as a whole", he said.

The peace accord was signed last October between the ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) and opposition CUF to resolve firstly the deaths in Pemba but also to look at the root cause of the demonstration, irregularities in the 2000 elections.

Changes

Walking along the streets of Pemba a year later not much has changed.

Potholes still decorate the roads and most homes still have no water.

But the marked change is in the attitude of the people.

Last year an air of depression was hanging over the island.

Pemba inhabitants were horrified at what had befallen their island.


CUF is a party fighting for democracy not for Zanzibar but for the United Republic of Tanzania

Professor Ibrahim Lipumba

This time round the despair was less although on a day marking the occasion the grief was heightened as people remembered their dead.

A widow, Dalila Kombo, told me that when the body of her husband Ali was found, it had three bullet wounds.

She has nine children and is unemployed.

"This day has filled me with great sorrow", she explained.

It has brought back the memory of that horrible day when Ali died. But for my children and me, life has to go on", she said.

Police clash with CUF supporter, October 2000
Police are blamed for the deaths of 27 CUF supporters
There was an air of political maturity on Pemba Island, to the appreciation of the police who are allegedly responsible for last year's killings.

They were barely deployed during the anniversary rally.

Police said that they had not expected any trouble and were glad the rally was over and had been peaceful.

According to Professor Lipumba this anniversary was not a day for CUF but a day for all of Tanzanians.

"CUF is a party fighting for democracy not for Zanzibar but for the United Republic of Tanzania", he said.

See also:

18 Jan 02 | Africa
Tanzania announces deaths inquiry
27 Jan 01 | Africa
Bloodshed on Tanzanian islands
31 Oct 00 | Africa
Zanzibar: Braced for trouble
29 Oct 00 | Africa
Row mars Tanzania poll
10 Jan 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Tanzania
27 Oct 00 | Africa
Tanzania: Political who's who
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