Thousands Join Opposition Demonstration in Tanzania
Thousands of opposition supporters in Tanzania on Saturday staged a peaceful demonstration here to press for fresh elections and a new constitution in the semi-autonomous off-shore state of Zanzibar and Pemba.
The demonstrators carried placards, sang and chanted slogans against the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM - Revolutionary Party), braving drizzly weather to march in the Kidongo Chekundu area in the centre of Dar Es Salaam.
"We want a new constitution; fresh elections for Pemba and Zanzibar," read some of the placards.
Others read: Down with (President Benjamin) Mkapa and his police brutality; Mkapa the dictator; No Human Rights No Peace."
Hundreds of police were deployed along a main route where the demonstrators passed, but witnesses told AFP that the protests were carried out peacefully.
Leaders of Tanzania's 12 opposition parties were present at demonstration, which culminated at a huge rally attended by more than 10,000 at Jangwani grounds.
Opposition demonstrations staged in late January on the island of Pemba -- amid an official ban -- led to riots and a brutal police crackdown, in which 33 people were killed, according to a police toll.
Protesters on Pemba were calling for a rerun of last year's controversial elections which returned Tanzania's long-ruling CCM to power in Zanzibar, which has its own government and legislature.
The opposition Civic United Front (CUF) said more than 50 people were killed during the riots -- DAR ES SALAAM (AFP)
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)