Tanzania: Anxiety As Police Quiz Seif

Police yesterday questioned Civic United Front (CUF) secretary-general Seif Shariff Hamad for over three hours as business in most parts of the Zanzibar was paralysed.

Shops remained closed as well as various roads leading into the town, especially those passing close to police headquarters in Ziwani, where Mr Hamad was interrogated.

Police set checkpoints where vehicles were inspected. Groups of armed police officers were deployed in various parts of the town, caused tension among residents.

The interrogation, which was led by Deputy Director of Criminal Investigation Salum Msangi, began at around 9.30am and ended at 12.35pm.

Reliable sources told The Citizen that 11 police officers were involved in the interrogation. Mr Hamad was in the company of his lawyers, Mr Abubakar Khamis Bakar and Mr Awadh Ali Said.

The opposition politician was questioned about "seditious" statements and an "illegal demonstration" he allegedly lead in Pemba recently.

Mr Hamad denied all allegations levelled against him, saying they were fabricated.

According to reports, Mr Hamad urged police not to allow themselves to be used politically as a took of oppression and should instead focus on protecting law-abiding citizens and their property.

Political leaders and members of the public had mixed feelings about the decision to summon and question Mr Hamad.

CUF Information, Publicity and Public Relations Director Salim Bimani said, "This is a deliberate move to whip up political tension in Zanzibar. We will issue an official statement in the next few days."

He added that Mr Hamad had not committed any crime and what he was doing and saying had been endorsed by the CUF Governing Council, which met recently in Zanzibar.

Mr Hamad has vowed to to step up the pressure on the government of Dr Ali Mohammed Shein following the controversial March 20 repeat elections, which CUF boycotted.

Mr Hamad maintains that he won last year's presidential election, which was annulled.

Source: The Citizen