HL Deb 20 November 2000 vol 619 cc61-2WA
Lord Steel of Aikwood

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Following the critical report of the Commonwealth observer mission on the election in Zanzibar; what representations they have made to the government of Tanzania to help secure fair and free elections on the island under a genuinely independent electoral commisison. [HL4577]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal)

Commonwealth and other international observers were unanimous in their strong criticism of the organisation of the elections on Zanzibar on 29 October. We, with EU colleagues, criticised the decision to rerun the elections in only 16 constituencies on 5 November and under the supervision of the current electoral commission. The EU also condemned the excessive use of force by the security forces against Zanzibaris.

My honourable friend Peter Hain MP spoke to the Tanzanian Foreign Minister on 4 November to express our concerns about the situation. He particularly urged the security forces to act with restraint. We will continue to press the Tanzanian authorities to find a solution to the political crisis that respects the democratic and human rights of all Zanzibaris. We have been encouraged by the recent release of opposition members who had been imprisoned on politically motivated treason charges for nearly three years. We hope that this is an indication of a genuine desire for reconciliation and openness on the part of the Zanzibar authorities.