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The Responsibility of the Tanzanian Government

The October 10, 2001agreement between the CCM government and CUF represents an important step in reasserting the rule of law and respect for basic human rights in Zanzibar. In particular, it provides for much-needed reforms that, if implemented, should help to prevent any recurrence of the violence that occurred in Zanzibar in January 2001. It provides for the establishment of a ten-member Joint Presidential Supervisory Committee, comprising five representatives each from the CCM and CUF, to oversee implementation of the agreement. This includes the establishment of an independent electoral commission; the creation of a permanent electoral roll; a constitutional review and review of the laws governing elections to bring them up to date with both the spirit and the practice of multiparty democracy; equitable coverage of all political parties in the state-owned media; and reform of the judiciary.

According to the agreement, a more inclusive government structure is to be established through the Joint Presidential Supervisory Commission; by-elections are to be held without delay in vacant constituencies rather than in two years' time; the political opposition is to be permitted a greater role in governmental activities; the civil service is to be de-politicized, including at the local government level; and civil and political rights education will be provided to the public. Most particularly, the agreement also provided for the creation of an independent commission of inquiry into the events of January 2001 in Zanzibar; this is to consider also question of compensation for those with identifiable claims against the government. Finally, the October agreement dropped all existing criminal charges against demonstrators in connection with the events of January 27, 2001. This clause should not prevent the bringing of fresh charges against anyone found responsible for criminal acts by the commission of inquiry.

According to the October agreement, the CCM and CUF party leaders are responsible for its implementation; included in the agreement is a detailed timetable covering the roles of these leaders, the joint commission, and the House of Representatives. Other appendices include a list of constitutional amendments to take effect from February 1, 2002, and a statement on the need for the joint commission to continue functioning after its mandate expires, with a view to establishing a government of national unity in the future. Nevertheless, the existing date for the end of the supervisory commission's mandate is the calling of he next general election in Tanzania.

If enacted, the October 2001 pact promises to bring to an end many of the contentious issues between the ruling party/government and the opposition. However, it remains unclear how committed the government is to actually fulfilling its promises. Only one month after the signing of the pact complaints were already being lodged by CUF when the attorney general in the CCM government of Zanzibar attempted to unilaterally alter the text of the accord when he introduced in the Zanzibar House of Representatives amendments to the bill setting up the Joint Presidential Supervisory Commission. However, optimism was renewed on January 3, 2002, after the government signed another agreement with CUF, re-pledging its commitment to the October 2001 pact. The new agreement resolved the differences over the Joint Presidential Supervisory Commission, and bound the government to consult with CUF before deviating from any of the terms of the October agreement.

On January 16, 2002, Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa announced the creation of the independent commission of inquiry to investigate the January 2001 violence in Zanzibar. Both CUF and CCM have welcomed the creation of the commission. A high-ranking CCM official told Human Rights Watch:

The view of CCM is the view of CUF: People have died, people have sought refuge What happened is an embarrassment to the country. It is difficult to say exactly what happened. Violence cannot give an answer to any problem, nowhere and in no place. Violence is not an answer. Nothing can be done in an atmosphere of enmity. The important thing is to normalize relations-this is most important. The commission is going to look at what happened, what caused it to happen. It is best to let the commission of inquiry do their work and produce their findings.212

The commission of inquiry's work will be an important indicator of how serious the government is to redressing the abuses of the past. It is important that the independent commission of inquiry be allowed to work autonomously from the government and be given the means to do so. In addition, it is important that the government accept the findings of the commission, including punishing those found responsible for crimes committed.

The Role of the International Community

Donor governments have shown their strong condemnation of events in Zanzibar by withholding aid to the Zanzibar government since the flawed elections of 1995. In January 2001, diplomatic missions in Dar-es-Salaam universally condemned the violent actions of the Tanzanian government. Sweden, holding the European Union presidency at the time, warned in a public statement: "[I]f the excessive use of force and human rights abuses committed by the security authorities continue, this will inevitably have an impact on the European Union's relations with Tanzania."213

The aid cutoff to the Zanzibar government since the flawed 1995 elections is a serious step, particularly since Tanzania is exceptionally dependent on foreign assistance. However, focusing on the Zanzibar government to the exclusion of the union Tanzanian government relieves the international community-the international financial institutions in particular-of having to take action against Tanzania, an otherwise shining example of economic reform. Yet, Human Rights Watch's findings establish responsibility for serious violence committed by the Tanzanian security forces under the control of the union government.

The union government of President Mkapa, and not the Zanzibari government of President Karume, is the primary locus of state power in Tanzania. Further international policy efforts to resolve the crisis in Zanzibar should recognize that. Further, if conditioning aid is seen as an effective strategy for pursuing human rights protection and good governance in Zanzibar, then consideration should be given to using such conditionality in relation also to the union government. To withhold donor assistance to the Zanzibar government as a result of the January 27 abuses while continuing support to the Tanzanian government sends, at the least, an inconsistent signal. Under the Tanzanian constitution, it is the Tanzanian government that has direct responsibility for law enforcement and security, yet the international community has seen fit to focus its condemnation on the Zanzibar government. In Zanzibar itself, the termination of international assistance is perceived, ironically, as punishment for those who sought to exercise their democratic rights of freedom of expression and assembly.

The international community now has an important role to help ensure that the October 2001 agreement is implemented and that governance reforms are promptly and effectively put in place. In this connection, the Tanzanian government should be held to its commitment, made in contractual letters of intent addressed to the International Monetary Fund, that it "will give priority to improving governance and public accountability."214 Sustained international pressure should be maintained on the Tanzanian government toward this end.

212 Human Rights Watch interview with high-ranking CCM official, Dar-es-Salaam, February 1, 2002.

213 "Tanzania's relations with Europe may be strained," The Guardian, February 1,2001

214 Tanzania Letter of Intent and Technical Memorandum of Understanding to the IMF, February 24, 2001.

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