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Identity politics and complexities of conflict resolution in Zanzibar

ABSTRACT: This paper analyses the pattern of conflict resolution in Zanzibar. Since the introduction of multiparty politics in 1992 this semi-autonomous territory within the State of Tanzania has remained on the brink of conflict. The paper argues that the conflict in Zanzibar should not be seen as merely a political stand-off with post-election rioting. In fact it has most of the characteristics of a deep-seated and protracted conflict. The political divisions are superimposed on deeper racial/ethnic divisions embedded in territorially-defined horizontal inequalities. These in turn have resonances to very brutal periods in Zanzibar and African history (particularly the slave trade). The paper examines strategies employed in resolution of the conflict to find explanations for the failure of the first and second Muafaka (Agreement). The paper argues that the 2010 Reconciliation (Maridhiano) offers actors better prospects of success than the previous attempts.

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