- Title: VARIOUS: Tensions rise in coup-prone Comoros following controversial election
- Date: 26th June 2007
- Summary: SOLDIERS SOLDIER WALKING
- Embargoed: 11th July 2007 13:00
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVAC4RKY508ECZYTN46GKCYJ1X0U
- Story Text: Tensions are rising on the coup-prone Comoros Islands in the Indian Ocean following a controversial election on the archipelago's Anjouan Island. The election, which the African Union (AU) had requested be postponed, has resulted in a flurry of diplomatic activity by the AU. The newly-inaugurated president of one of the Comoros islands has upset not only the federal government of the Comoros but also the African Union, after he named a cabinet, following elections that he had been asked to postpone.
Mohamed Bacar was sworn in last week as leader of Anjouan island after voters went to the polls on June 10, despite the federal government's decision to delay the election because of security concerns. Both the African Union and European Union had asked that the election be postponed.
Speaking in Pretoria, security analyst Henry Boshoff said that east Africa countries in particular were extremely unhappy at events in the archipelago.
"The Comoros is not very happy about it, as well as Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Mauritius. All these countries are very upset about what happened. There was a meeting on Tuesday in Cape Town, between the ministers of all these countries and the statement was made, and tomorrow the Minister of Foreign Affairs, mme Zuma, is on her way to the Comoros, to see what they can rescue. In the meantime, there is a mission there. It's not a military mission, it's more an electoral observer mission with a small security contingent. What the meeting on Tuesday have said, if necessary they'll have to widen the mandate of this mission, and maybe give a more security emphasis, not saying that they will enforce it, but I think that what they are trying to do is to put pressure on Anjouan to declare this election null and void," Boshoff said.
In a communiquÃ© this week the AU "firmly condemned" the polls and declared Bacar's return to office "null and void" following a meeting in South Africa to discuss tensions on the politically unstable Indian Ocean island.
The European Union said it was concerned by the developments and it disapproved of the fact the elections went ahead.
Boshoff said that action taken so far by the AU showed the organisation was acting in a manner consistent with its policies.
"I think what we are seeing that is happening - and also it's interesting that the minister have said that they will refer this back to the Peace and Security Council - so, what we are seeing in Africa is that the African Union and African countries are really dealing with issues that is contrary to the African Union's beliefs. And one of that is unelected governments, or governments that come into into power by an unconstitutional process. We've seen it in Togo and in think we are going to see it here again."
The predecessor of the African Union, the Organisation of Africa Unity, seldom spoke out or acted in similar situations and was regularly criticised for failing to act against illegitimate governments or breaches of basic human rights.
The Comoros federal government threatened military action after the vote.
Tensions have grown since Bacar loyalists killed two federal soldiers last month and police shot three people this month.
One of Bacar's newly appointed ministers said nothing would stop Anjouan's government from moving forward.
Comoros' three islands, whose total population is 670,000, retain autonomy via local presidencies under the terms of a 2001 peace deal and share a rotating national presidency.
Last year's national presidential elections were Comoros' first peaceful transition of power since independence in 1975. It has suffered 19 coups or attempted coups since its liberation from colonial rule.
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