Kikwete elated over situation in Zanzibar

President Jakaya Kikwete yesterday commended Zanzibar President Amani Abeid Karume and Civic United Front (CUF) Secretary General Seif Shariff Hamad for holding landmark talks at the Isles’ State House.

A statement issued in Dar es Salaam by the Directorate of Presidential Communications said the president was impressed with the decision by the opposition party to recognize Karume as legitimate President of Zanzibar after years of bad blood between it and the ruling CCM linked to general election results.

President Kikwete said he was happy with the steps taken by the two leaders towards improved relations between the two parties and wished them all the best, assuring them that he would cooperate with them.

His remarks come hardly a week after Karume and Hamad engaged in ground-breaking talks geared at ending political stand-off in the Isles.

“This is a very important step towards trusting each other, and I believe that the decision will be instrumental in finding a lasting solution to the political stand-off and turmoil in Zanzibar and the country as a whole,” said President Kikwete.

He said CUF’s decision to recognise Karume’s Zanzibar presidency was exemplary and was meant to serve the diverse interests of Zanzibaris and promote peace in Tanzania as a whole.

He called on Zanzibaris and all Tanzanians as well as the international community to commend, join hands with and support the two leaders for their endeavours to help peace and harmony flourish and take root in the Isles.

“At this time, these two leaders need to be encouraged so that they smoothly reach the intended mission, which all of us have been wishing to see accomplished,” he added, imploring Tanzanians to ignore people bent on sabotaging the achievements made by Karume and Hamad.

CCM and CUF have since January 2007 been holding peace talks seeking to end years of intermittent clashes in Zanzibar mainly linked to the results of the 2000 and 2005 general elections, which the latter party has persistently dismissed as rigged.

The two leaders held surprise talks at the Zanzibar State House on Thursday, part of whose outcome was the largely unexpected announcement by Hamad that CUF had decided to bury the hatchet and now officially recognised Karume as the legitimate leader.

Meanwhile, the Zanzibar government has hailed Civic United Front (CUF) Secretary General Seif Shariff Hamad and the entire leadership of the opposition party for their decision to officially recognise Amani Abeid Karume presidency.

An Isles government press statement congratulated Hamad personally on his visit to the Zanzibar State House last Thursday for official talks with President Karume that stood as proof a thawing of relations between CCM and CUF.

The statement also had hearty praise for President Karume for having hosted the talks, noting: “The (Zanzibar) government’s view is that the patriotic move (of holding the bipartisan talks) has opened a new chapter of peace, harmony, unity and solidarity in the history of Zanzibar.”

It added that the government was committed to efforts to spruce up the political atmosphere in Zanzibar for the benefit of all the people, and by extension boost social and economic development.

The statement went on to make an impassioned appeal to all people to support President Karume and Hamad “who are leading the way towards the opening of a new chapter in the history of Zanzibar”.

It said it was the aim of the government to do whatever it could “to facilitate the enhancement of development, peace, unity, and solidarity and to remove all elements or factors dividing our people”.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN

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