Long term frustrations finally broke out into full scale riots on Zanzibar.  The use of life bullets and tear gas has been noted on twitter today.  The riots come in response to the arrest of an opposition leader on Saturday.  In the past days, the number of   military forces and police in the streets of  Mji Mkongwe (Stone Town) increased.  Thus, the government anticipated the unrest.

The majority of protesters are reported as UAMSHO followers.  Mussa Juma, an imam and a UAMSHO leader was arrested by authorities from the mainland.  UAMSHO (Kiswahili for revival) is an Islamic association advocating the separation of Zanzibar from the mainland of Tanganyika. In addition to resenting the union, some Islamist rally for the implementation of the Islamic law (Sharia),  others have openly rallied against western influences.

There are a plethora of political and social reasons for the unrest. A government commission is currently traveling throughout Zanzibar engaging  with the local populace on unity issues. Nevertheless, the much resented union is only one reason for discontent.  Government corruption, stalled democratic processes and lack of transparency all create animosity towards both Zanzibar´s and the Union´s government. 

The Zanzibaris do have legitimate grievances against the government, and it is unfortunate that hardliners use the discontent to create violent unrests.  For more information on the complex issues underlying the current unrest, read earlier
Blog entries.

 


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