Zanzibar violence scares flames

The Flames on Monday threatened not to play their international friendly match against Zanzibar that was scheduled to take place last night following the violence that rocked the East African island nation on Sunday unless their security was guaranteed.

Police on Tanzania’s archipelago of Zanzibar appealed for calm Sunday after clashes with protesters calling for the independence of the islands left several injured.

Football Association of Malawi (FAM) executive member James Mwenda who is leading the Flames delegation, said they were still monitoring the situation in the countdown to last night’s match.

“We have made our position clear to the football authorities that we’ll only play the match if our security is guaranteed.

“At the moment, the situation is calm and we have an assurance that our safety will be guaranteed, but we do not want to take any chances because anything can happen at the football match. We are still monitoring the state of affairs,” said Mwenda from Zanzibar yesterday.

However, Mwenda said the Flames managed to get the feel of the match venue yesterday morning.

Zanzibar police commissioner Ali Mussa was on Monday quoted by the BBC as saying: “We are trying to maintain peace and restore calm.”

He confirmed that the demonstration by an Islamic group called Uamsho had turned violent on Saturday.

Rioters threw stones as police fired tear gas and water cannons in Stone Town, the capital of the semi-autonomous Tanzanian archipelago. Small groups of protesters were still on the streets on Sunday.

Uamsho, which claims to safeguard Islamic customs on the majority-Muslim island, had been holding demonstrations demanding for an end to the union with mainland Tanzania.

Uamsho’s supporters clashed with police on Saturday after they marched on a police station following the arrest of one of their leaders.

Tourism is the main foreign currency earner for Zanzibar, famed for its white-sand beaches and historical buildings in Stone Town, listed as a world heritage site by the United Nations cultural agency Unesco.

Meanwhile, FAM has said the Flames are expected to depart Dar es Salaam for Kenya on Wednesday for Sunday’s 2014 World Cup qualifier against the Harambee Stars.

“The team will be arriving in Nairobi from Dar-es-Salaam on Wednesday at 19.30 hours boarding Aviation Airline.

“The 27-member delegation will be accomodated at Hotel Hennessey (1 km from the City Centre and 4km to the venue of the match). The match will be played at Moi International Sports Centre (with artificial surface) in Kasarani and will kick off at 16:00 hours Kenya time (15:00 hours Malawi time),” said FAM chief executive officer Suzgo Nyirenda.

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