CUF's letter to JK By Polycarp Machira THE CITIZEN The opposition Civic United Front yesterday disclosed that they had sent a letter to President Jakaya Kikwete asking him to personally spearhead the Zanzibar Mwafaka talks, but a State House official denied receiving any such communication from the party. CUF official Ismail Jussa Ladhu said they hand delivered the letter to State House, Dar es Salaam, a day after President had urged representatives of the opposition party and the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi to resume the stalled talks on the Zanzibar political crisis. Mr Ladhu said CUF saw President Kikwete's personal intervention as the only way to jumpstart the negotiations and ease the mounting political tension in the Isles. The CUF assistant secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Relations said the letter was sent to State House in on May 16. Following President Kikwete's appeal on May 15, urging the Mwafaka negotiating teams to resume talks and push the process forward, the letter was delivered the following morning, he added. The letter, Ref. No. CUF/AK/CCMII/2008/010, had been written well in advance, on May 8, but was delivered a week later for reasons that the party would not divulge. In the letter we asked Mr Kikwete, as the Union President, to take the lead in bringing together Mr Amani Abeid Karume and Maalim Seif Sharif Hamad to the negotiating table, said Mr Jussa. But State House communications director Salva Rweyemamu had earlier in the morning told a press conference at State House that CUF had not made any formal appeal to the President over the stalled talks. Fielding questions from journalists during the second weekly State House press briefing, Mr Rweyemamu said: The President has not received any formal request from CUF to intervene. He said that according to the initial agreement, the Mwafaka talks were to be spearheaded by the two party secretaries-general, Mr Yusuf Makamba (CCM), and Mr Hamad. The President, he said, gave the two a freehand to deal with the matter. Reporters had asked for State House's response to the appeal by CUF to President Kikwete to lead the talks, just the way he intervened and enabling the signing of a power sharing pact in Kenya between President Mwai Kibaki and Mr Raila Odinga, now the Prime Minister. CUF said the President had failed to demonstrate that charity begins at home as he neglected his own backyard while pushing for a peace deal between his Burundi counterpart, Mr Pierre Nkurunzinza, and Mr Agathon Rwasa of the PALIPEHUTU-FNL rebel group. Yesterday, Mr Jussa revealed that the letter was delivered to State House and a delivery book signed by an employee to acknowledge receipt. But the party had not got any feedback, he said. As part of his principal duties, the President has to step in when the talks are being derailed in this manner as it is clear that both parties do not now trust each other, he said, adding that a copy of the letter signed by Mr Hamad, was also sent to the CUF chairman, Prof Ibrahim Lipumba. Mr Jussa said that due to the importance the party attached to the Mwafaka talks, they had decided to remind the President of the need to solve the political crisis facing the nation.He added that with or without any request from any party, the President has an obligation to ensure peace and stability, adding that failure to intervene would put the country at risk. But with CUF still waiting for Mr Kikwete's move, President Karume, addressing a press conference at State House in Zanzibar on Monday, declared that he would not share power with the opposition party as I fairly won the 2005 elections. Mr Karume, addressing his first press conference since the Mwafaka talks stalemate, said CUF must recognise him as President before I can entertain any thoughts of meeting Maalim Seif for ordinary talks. He ruled out the holding of talks on a possible coalition government. Yesterday, Mr Jussa announced that CUF would hold a press conference tomorrow to give its response to the remarks by President Karume. Meanwhile, a University of Dar es Salaam political science lecturer, Prof Mwesiga Baregu, yesterday criticised President Karume, saying as that as a leader, he ought to have been more diplomatic instead of portraying his anger in public. Speaking to The Citizen by telephone, Mr Baregu accused President Karume of using impolite language that simply shows he is not ready for a compromise, and is keen on driving Zanzibar towards doom. Another scholar, Prof Issa Shivji, said in Dar es Salaam that the longer the ruling party, CCM, dillydallied with the peace process, the more things are getting out of control.Prof Shivji, speaking to The Citizen by telephone, said the Government should ensure that the Mwafaka talks continue for an agreement to be reached soon. CUF has accused Mr Karume of being the stumbling block in the Mwafaka talks. The party wants a power sharing deal in a government of national unity ahead of 2010 General Elections, but CCM says that the decision must be made in a referendum for Zanzibaris to determine how they want to be governed. Last Thursday, while appealing to CCM and CUF to end the two-month Mwafaka talks standoff, President Kikwete told the leaders of both parties to end public posturing and revive the talks.