DAR ES SALAAM, 07/08 - A gloomy and quiet atmosphereon Saturday hung over Tanzania`s Pemba Island where the body of the late Vice President Omar Ali Juma was laid to rest on Friday, according to reports from this small spice island off mainland Tanzania.
It was quiet all over Pemba when thousands of guests who attended the funeral of the late vice president at his home village left for their respective homes.
Omar, who has been vice president since 1995, died of heart attack at his residence here on Wednesday night at the age of 60. This is the first time a vice president dies while in office in the country`s history.
If there was one thing which impressed the guests most, said the report, it was the solidarity shown by the people of Pemba irrespective of their much publicized political differences.
The Indian Ocean island, one of the twin isles of the semiautonomous Zanzibar region, is the stronghold of Tanzania`s major opposition Civic United Front (CUF), whose top leaders participated fully in the burial ceremony on Friday.
It was in the same place that a street fighting between police and CUF supporters occurred in January, leading to the death of more than twenty. Some 2,000 fled to neighboring Kenya for fear ofprosecution for their involvement in the clashes. Over 500 others still have not returned.
The opposition has been demanding a rerun of last October`s general elections in Zanzibar, claiming it was not free and fair.
Zanzibar united with the then mainland Tanganyika in 1964 to form the United Republic of Tanzania. But it retained a limited amount of autonomy, including its own president and legislature.
According to the Tanzanian constitution, where the president hails from one part of the united republic, then the vice president, who is his principal assistant, shall be a person who hails from the other part of the union.
Under the law, President Benjamin Mkapa is expected to appoint a new vice president from the isles within two weeks from last Wednesday.