DAR ES SALAAM REMAINS TENSE AFTER ARMY DEPLOYS IN HOT SPOTS
The most recent clashes between separatists and religious radicals in Zanzibar, which caused considerable concern amongst the island’s tourism fraternity, have been mirrored in Dar es Salaam during the week, where demonstrations following the arrests of radicals descended into more church burnings, leaving the security forces struggling with the situation, until on Friday army units were deployed to keep a tense calm.
Reported attempts by radical groups to march to State House were brought to a halt as protesters agitated against President Kikwete for having visited the destroyed churches to get a first hand report on the damage caused by the unprecedented levels of sectarian violence.
Tourism stakeholders have quietly expressed their growing concern, over the radicalization of the situation in Zanzibar, where a protester was shot dead on Friday, as well as in Dar es Salaam, as it gave the country a bad name abroad. ‘We were already suffering from the negative reports about tourists being mugged, a Greek visitor being murdered during a mugging in broad daylight. But with this situation spreading and almost out of hand a few days ago, police is busy with the radicals and normal police work could suffer. There might not be enough personnel around to keep up the patrols outside and near the main hotels and in the areas where muggings have happened and it opens the door for criminals to exploit that situation. We have enough issues to be concerned about in the tourism industry and more security issues should not be added to those. I personally support the idea that Kikwete sent the army in to the city hotspots to keep the peace but the underlying issues should be resolved. There can be no split in the union, we have to stay united with Zanzibar and the radicals must be defeated on a political level as well as on a security level’.
Tanzania has since independence been a model of peaceful coexistence between different religious groups and unlike other countries in the region never suffered of tribal clashes, making it an example for others to emulate. There is however now growing speculation that foreign agitators with their own radical agenda may have infiltrated into Zanzibar to ferment trouble under the guise of seeking separation from the mainland. The recent defeat of the last Al Shabab stronghold in Somalia, when the port city of Kismayu fell to AU forces, found many of the foreign masterminds had left by sea, probably under the cover of night, to melt away into coastal communities elsewhere along the extended East African coastline and local security organs are now said to be on high alert to hunt such individuals down before they can start building new networks and cause trouble. Watch this space for regular situation updates.