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Friday, 15 September, 2000, 13:09 GMT 14:09 UK
Tensions high in Zanzibar
Zanzibar old town
Some donors have withheld aid from Zanzibar
By East Africa correspondent Cathy Jenkins

With parliamentary and presidential elections due at the end of next month in Zanzibar, international human rights groups and donor countries are watching closely the progress of a case involving 18 opposition party members who have been detained for almost three years on charges of treason.

Defence lawyers are awaiting the result of an appeal against the holding of the trial of 18 members of the Civic United Front, Zanzibar's main opposition party.

The opposition says the 18 are being held for political reasons.

Political graffiti
The opposition says the 1995 elections were rigged
The case has drawn the attention of international human rights groups and also Western donor countries, who are withholding aid from Zanzibar because of concerns over its human rights record.

Political tension in Zanzibar has been high since the CUF accused the ruling CCM party of rigging the last elections, in 1995, to stay in power.

Semi-autonomous

The Indian Ocean islands which make up Zanzibar enjoy semi-autonomous status within Tanzania and have their own parliament and president.


The islands have their own regional government
The current President, Salmin Amour, who will stand down in the October elections, has urged the leaders of the other parties to forget the past, but he has made no mention of the 18.

The treason case is highly sensitive for the Zanzibar authorities. Jokha Khalif Seif says she only sees her husband, Machano Hamis Ali, once every two weeks and never alone.

Every day she prepares food in the kitchen of her flat to give to a prison guard, who hands it over to her husband in jail.

After interviewing her in her home, the BBC team was detained by police waiting outside her flat. We were questioned for 45 minutes before being released.

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See also:

29 Jul 99 | Crossing continents
Tanzanian turmoil
09 Jun 99 | Africa
Zanzibar deadlock broken
27 Dec 99 | Africa
New row over Tanzania union
22 Aug 00 | Africa
Election fever grips Tanzania
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