Six Members of Parliament Face Treason Charges The Citizen (Dar es Salaam) NEWS 11 June 2008 Posted to the web 11 June 2008 By Salma Said and Rodgers Luhwago Zanzibar Four Members of Parliament were on Monday questioned by police in Zanzibar over their alleged involvement in a secession campaign spearheaded by Pemba elders. Together with two other lawmakers - who did not report to the p0lice - they could face treason charges, police in Zanzibar warned yesterday. The politicians, it is alleged, played a key role in the move by 12 Pemba elders, who have sought United Nations support for the formation of a federal state in Zanzibar, to give Pemba greater autonomy. Commissioner of Police Khamis Mohamed Simba said they were finalising the investigations before taking the suspects to court. The politicians targeted include four members of Zanzibar's Representative Council, Mr Said Ali Mbarouk (Gando), Mr Hamad Masoud Hamad (Ole), Mr Asaah Othman Hamad (Wete) and Mr Mohammed Salim (Mkoani). They are all members of Civic United Front (CUF). Those who did not appear before the police are National Assembly members Masoud Abdallah (Mtambile) and Salim Khamis (Chambani), also of CUF. The first four were interrogated at Zanzibar's police headquarters, a month after the Pemba elders wrote to the UN, demanding that Pemba's secession. Advocate Ussi Khamis accompanied the politicians to police headquarters. They were all released on bail. But the two MPs in the Union Parliament from Zanzibar were said to have travelled to Dodoma to attend the Budget session of Parliament, which opened yesterday. Speaking on behalf of his colleagues, Mr Hamad said that the law granted them the right to refuse to give any explanations to police until they are taken to court. Said he: "There are normally two options in such a case. The first is to give an explanation to police and the second is to remain silent waiting for the matter to be taken to court. So, we have resolved to take the second option," he said. They, he added, had fulfilled all the police procedures, including arriving at police headquarters at the right time (10am). They were then called into the interrogation room separately. He said they had been questioned local police and intelligence officers from the Mainland. The interrogators told the politicians that they had been summoned to appear before the police after they were named by seven CUF elders as having helped them to draft the petition they sent to the UN office in Dar es Salaam. The letter, which was signed by 10,000 Pemba residents, called for UN support in "creating an environment for the formation of a federal state in Zanzibar". Pemba people have accused the Zanzibar Government of marginalising them. They claim that creating their own state will give them a chance to proper economically. However, the Zanzibar Government has strongly denied the allegations, insisting that President Amani Karume has been implementing social and economic projects on Pemba Island. President's Karume has also defended himself against the allegations of exclusion of Pemba people from his government, saying that it would have been unconstitutional for him to appoint opposition MPs to serve in the CCM administration. Meanwhile, the Pemba elders, who early last month sent the petition to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, seeking their island's autonomy, Are now seeking audience with President Jakaya Kikwete over the same matter. According to a statement issued in Dar es Salaam yesterday and signed by the spokesman of the group, Mr Hamad Ali Mussa, the elders said they would write a letter to President Kikwete, asking him to help resolve the problem. On Monday, the elders, once again called at the UN office in Dar es Salaam, seeking an answer to their letter. They did so with another 27,000 signatures of Pemba people supporting their initiative. According to Mr Mussa, a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) official identified only as Robert asked them to return after a week for the answer. Soon after presenting their letter to the UN office in early May, more than 10 Pemba elders were detained for several days before being released after undergoing police interrogation. Human right activists and renowned academics such Prof Haroub Othman and Prof Issah Shivji had called for the release of the elders. Some legal experts said talk of treason in Zanzibar was wrong since, according to international law, it not an independent state. Political tension has been rising in Zanzibar since the CCM National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting at founding President Mwalimu Julius Nyerere's home village of Butiama in Musoma. The NEC ditched a peace accord between CUF and the ruling party and instead processed that a referendum be held in Zanzibar for the people to determine how they wish to be governed. But CUF members said the referendum was not part of the agenda of the talks, which lasted 14 months.