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AU troops arrive in Comoros

Latest update : 2008-03-21

Three hundred AU troops have arrived on the Comoran island of Moheli, to support Comoran forces seeking to oust Anjouan's renegade leader Mohamed Bacar. FRANCE 24's Franck Berruyer reports.

FRANCE 24's reporter in the Comoros, Franck Berruyer, has sent us his reporter's notebook - despite challenging working conditions: "I've just sailed for two hours at the bottom of a fishing boat. My back is broken and the gear is locked away in a waterproof bag. I finished editing my report at 1am, it is now 7am."






A first detachment of 300 Tanzanian and Sudanese troops mandated by the African Union (AU) to support Comoran forces seeking to oust Anjouan's renegade leader arrived Thursday on the island of Moheli.


 “According to the Comoran army chief of staff, it is a question of hours, maybe of days,” said Emmanuel Goujon, a correspondent for AFP and FRANCE 24 reporting from Moheli along with FRANCE 24’s Franck Berruyer. “But of course, the arrival of these expected African soldiers here in Moheli is a good sign that the operation will start anytime now;” he added.


Four hundred Comoran troops have been stationed in the Indian Ocean archipelago's island of Moheli for two months. They were awaiting reinforcements ahead of a planned military operation against Anjouan's renegade ruler Mohamed Bacar.


Each one of the Comoran federation's three islands has its own president and institutions. Bacar has ruled Anjouan since 2002, but his re-election in June 2007 was deemed illegal by both the central authorities and the AU.


"These are friends coming to help us,” Lieutenant-Colonel Ahmed Bastoi, the Comoran army chief of staff told AFP. “It will speed up things now, concerning the planned operation in Anjouan.”


“This is a first rotation of 350 Tanzanian and Sudanese soldiers,” said Berruyer. “They came in a ferry boat chartered by the Comoran army with all their equipement and their food. Two other rotations should follow.”


Aboard the Shissiwani II, troops were looking forward to landing after six hours at sea.


Wearing a red beret with the outstretched wings emblem of paratroopers, and with their assault rifles slung around the shoulders, they exchanged a few words in Arabic with their Comoran colleagues.


"We’re happy to be here ,” commandant Yahyah Abdallah, the head of the Sudanese paratroopers, told AFP. “We’re feeling good. There’s no problem. We’re proud to be here to help our Comoran brothers. We’re ready. »


Senegalese troops are also expected in Moroni on Thursday, while Libya is contributing to the operation by transporting the Sudanese contingent.


This makes the operation a rather complex one to plan, explained Goujon. “Even if everybody is quite impatient, they have to organize, to train together with the Tanzanian and the Sudanese and they don’t speak the same language so it will be a bit difficult for the officers of these three

Date created : 2008-03-20