Tanzanian officials call for calm in Zanzibar

May 29, 2012

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Tanzania's Minister of Home Affairs Emanuel Nchimbi on Monday (May 28th) called on local Zanzibar leaders to help maintain peace and bring criminals to justice, following riots that erupted over the weekend in the archipelago.

Nchimbi, along with Inspector General of Police Saidi Mwema, met with local religious leaders and tourism officials at police headquarters in Ziwani and asked them to help keep Zanzibar stable and peaceful, Tanzania's Daily News reported.

Police accuses Uamsho, an Islamist separatist group, of sending its supporters into the streets of Zanzibar and setting fire to two churches, leading to clashes with police in Stone Town on Saturday and Sunday.

"We need to support our leaders in keeping Zanzibar peaceful. Going back to conflicts may mean that our leaders have failed. Let us work together and avoid mixing Islam with criminality. I believe Islam does not allow attacking bars, churches, and non-believers. Let us hunt for criminals," Nchimbi told the meeting.

Zanzibar police appealed for calm on Sunday, vowing to arrest leaders of the Uamsho group responsible for inciting the riots.

Uamsho denied any wrongdoing in a statement on Sunday, calling on Muslims and residents of Zanzibar to maintain peace.

Thirty people were arraigned before a court in Mwanakwerekwe district on Monday in connection with the riots. The suspects have denied the charges and were released on bail.

"Everyone has a great role in maintaining peace and stability in the country," Nchimbi said. "We need peace for ourselves and for visitors, including tourists who contribute to the economy."

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