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Zanzibar is a sovereign state, says minister

Sunday July 27 2008

By SALMA SAID, NATION Correspondent

ZANZIBAR, Sunday - The Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar has stated its firm stance on the raging debate over the political status of Zanzibar, saying the Isles constituted a sovereign state.

This time the Isles government appears to be determined in defending its territorial political status, despite the fact that Zanzibar’s Constitution and that of the United Republic clearly states that the spice Island is part of Tanzania.

Deputy Chief Minister Ali Juma Shamhuna caught the attention of the world when he categorically denounced claims that Zanzibar is part of Tanzania.

Responding to contributions made by Members of the House of Representatives when deliberating on 2008/2009 budget speech for the Ministry of Information, Culture and Sports, on Thursday, Mr Shamhuna said Zanzibar was a sovereign state and would continue to hold such a political status forever.

He said Article 9 of the Zanzibar Constitution provided a clear picture of the Zanzibar status, explaining that the fact that Zanzibar had its own executive, legislature and judiciary , it was a point to substantiate that the Island constituted a sovereign state of its own.

“The subject on whether Zanzibar is a sovereign state or not has been exhaustively discussed……and I think we have the right to continue discussing about it because Zanzibar is a sovereign state and it will continue retaining such a status of being a sovereign state. We should not get tired of defending such a status,” Mr Shamhuna said amid applause from Members of House of Representatives.

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Was surprised

The deputy chief minister who is also Minister for Information, Culture and Sport said he was surprised by those who issued statement claiming that Zanzibar was not a sovereign state, adding that no one had the authority to stop Zanzibaris from fighting for their rights.

He also said that he agreed with the statement given earlier by Zanzibar’s attorney general Iddi Pandu Hassan in which he stated that the utterances of the Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda in Parliament recently was just a slip of the tongue.

The controversy over the issue whether or not Zanzibar is a sovereign state within the United Republic of Tanzania surfaced in parliament in Dodoma last month.

At that time the Prime Minister proposed that Attorney Generals of both Mainland and Zanzibar look into the constitutional interpretation of terminologies in the constitution.

Responding to questions from MPs, Mr Pinda said he understood that the controversy surrounding the issue might have come from interpretation of the language used in the particular provision of the constitution, whether Zanzibar is a sovereign state.

The deputy chief minister condemned individuals and officials who threatened people discussing the matter on the pretext of committing treason. He said in this era of democracy there was no point in threatening one another, adding that every one had the right to search their rights.