CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) – Laura Bush is taking her goodwill tour to a part of Africa that is crucial in anti-terrorism efforts because of its large Muslim population and history of attacks.

The first lady’s official itinerary keeps her focus on President Bush’s commitment to battling AIDS and supporting education during her stay in East Africa, where she arrives Wednesday for a two-day visit in Tanzania.

But the possibility that overwhelmingly Muslim Zanzibar – Tanzania’s Indian Ocean archipelago – could turn toward a stricter form of Islam and away from democracy in fall elections is posing some concerns in Tanzania’s secular government.

Mindful of the 1998 deadly truck bombings of the U.S. embassies in Dar es Salaam and in Nairobi, the capital of neighboring Kenya, Washington is keeping an eye on an area where anti-Western rhetoric has increasingly been a feature of Friday sermons. The elections set for Oct. 30 in Zanzibar are feared to be even more turbulent than the other two rounds that have been held since single-party rule ended in 1992.

In recent months, six people have been killed, voter registration centers have been attacked and homes as well as churches have been set afire in political violence.

Semiautonomous Zanzibar, which united with the mainland in 1964, elects its own president and legislature.

Mrs. Bush is playing ambassador to Muslims during her visit to Zanzibar, going to the Al Rahma Madrasa Pre-Primary School to tout a U.S.-funded effort to increase the community’s access to education by helping to build schools. After a classroom tour, she was to talk with students, parents and teachers.

On Wednesday in Dar es Salaam, the executive capital of Tanzania, Mrs. Bush is to visit a Catholic-run organization that teaches AIDS prevention, provides home and clinic care for AIDS sufferers and supports children orphaned by the disease. The group, called Pastoral Activities and Services For People with AIDS in Dar Es Salaam Archdiocese, or PASADA, is funded in part with money from the president’s five-year, $15 billion AIDS initiative.


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