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African and French support for Anjouan intervention

Latest update : 2008-02-21

The African Union and France said on Wednesday they would provide support for a military intervention planned by Comoros president Sambi against Anjouan island's rebel leader Mohamed Bacar (photo).

The African Union decided Wednesday to provide military and logistical aid if necessary to Comoros President Ahmed Abdallah Sambi against the rebellious island of Anjouan, an official said.
  
"After seven and a half hours of deliberations, we have resolved to help and support President Sambi to restore peace and security in Anjouan as soon as possible," Tanzanian Foreign Minister Bernard Kamillius Membe said.
  
"We are ready to support him militarily and logistically to do so," Membe added after co-chairing a session of the pan-African body's contact group on the Comoro Islands with the comissioner of the AU Peace and Security Council, Said Djinnit.
  
Membe said the question of Anjouan would be resolved by March 30.
  
On Tuesday the AU Peace and Security Council said a maritime embargo and asset freeze of Anjouan's top officials imposed in November would remain in force pending the outcome of a planned assessment mission, but the Comoros government Wednesday said this was not enough.
  
The island of Anjouan, which together with Grande Comore and Moheli form the Union of Comoros, has been at loggerheads with Sambi and the AU since it held presidential polls on July 10 last year, won by the incumbent Mohamed Bacar.
  
Both the federal authorities and the AU rejected this poll, but Bacar has in turn refused to organise fresh elections.
  
Sambi has upped the rhetoric in recent days, vowing to use force where diplomacy failed to regain control over Anjouan and he has deployed troops on Moheli, lying opposite the recalcitrant island.
  
In Addis Ababa, the AU contact group on Wednesday said in a statement that it had decided immediately to send a military and security evaluation team to Comoros as well as a planning team to make final arrangements.
  
The AU contact group consists of Libya, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan and Tanzania, while Djinnit said that France had offered to transport AU troops to the archipelago, though it would not intervene directly.
  
"Among AU partners who have agreed to help us, France has expressed its readiness to facilitate the transport of Tanzanian and Senegalese troops to Moroni," the capital of Grande Comore, he told AFP.
  
A French diplomatic source reached by telephone confirmed this.
  
"We have said that we will help with transport as far as the Comoros, either to Moroni or Moheli, but we will not help them to disembark on Anjouan," the source said.
  
The federal government on Wednesday described the notion of merely extending sanctions by the AU as "inadmissible", since it would serve no purpose.
  
"For us, this decision is inadmissible. If Mohamed Bacar wanted to give in, he would already have done it," federal government spokesman Abdourahim Said Bakar said.
  
The small archipelago off the southeast African coast has long been beset by conflicts between the government and each one of its three main islands, which has its own ruling institutions.
  
The former French colony has endured 19 coups or coup attempts since independence in 1975. Its current federal structure arose from AU-backed efforts to end island feuds.

Date created : 2008-02-20

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