Ousted former Comoran president Colonel Bacar's demand for asylum on French soil has been rejected by France's refugee office. Bacar's lawyer said she would appeal the decision.
France has rejected a request for asylum from ousted Comoran rebel leader Mohamed Bacar but the refugee office said he should not be sent back to the Comoros, officials said Thursday.
Bacar, currently held on the French island of Reunion, was removed from power in Anjouan during a joint operation in March by Comoran and African Union troops.
The OFPRA refugee body, which informed Bacar of its decision Wednesday, ruled the ousted leader could not be sent back to the Comoros because of a real risk of persecution, the prefecture of Reunion said.
The minister for overseas affairs Yves Jego was due to travel to Moroni later in the day to discuss Bacar's fate with Comoran leaders.
"France stands alongside the Comoros to ensure that Colonel Bacar can no longer govern in Anjouan," Jego said at the airport before his departure.
He said the talks with Comoran leaders were to ensure that "the law is applied and that colonel Bacar can face justice."
The Comoros has asked France to extradite Bacar who was elected in 2002 in Anjouan and re-elected in June in a poll declared illegal by the federal government and never recognized by the African Union.
A French court is due to rule on the extradition request later this month, Jego confirmed.
Bacar fled to the French island of Mayotte before being transferred to Reunion with 22 members of his personal guard and was taken into French military custody.
Bacar's lawyer had vowed to appeal a negative ruling by the refugee office.
France last month granted asylum to two of Bacar's guard, denying it to six others. Another 15 of his guard were denied asylum in the latest OFPRA ruling, although none can be sent home due to the risk of persecution.
Separately, a Paris appeal court is to rule on June 5 on charges of illegally entering French territory and of weapons possession brought against Bacar and his men.
The second largest in the three-island Indian Ocean Comoros federation, Anjouan is to hold a new local presidential poll next month.
Since winning independence from France in 1975, the Comoros archipelago has never had prolonged stability, and has faced 19 coups or coup attempts.
Date created : 2008-05-15