Status on the latest Developments is the Comoros
FOR ORAL REPLY
QUESTION NO: 22
PUBLISHED IN INTERNAL QUESTION PAPER NO 3 OF 19 FEBRUARY 2008
MR M. RAMGOBIN (ANC) TO ASK THE MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS:
What are the latest developments in the Comoros?
The standoff between the Union Government of the Comoros and the authorities of Anjouan persists. The present political crisis in the Comoros stems from, inter alia, the decree by President Sambi to postpone elections in Anjouan and the refusal of the authorities of the Island of Anjouan to accede to the decree and hold new elections.
In an attempt to overcome the political stalemate South Africa, in its capacity as Coordinator of the Countries of the Region, hosted three meetings during the second and third quarters of 2007 in South Africa aimed at achieving a peaceful and negotiated solution in the Comoros.
Following the failure of the Anjouanese authorities to unconditionally agree to hold elections, before a Comorian Round Table, the AU decided to impose sanctions against these authorities, including an asset freeze and travel ban. These sanctions have, however, not contributed thus far to solving the political crisis.
South Africa has noted and respects the subsequent decision of the President of the Union of the Comoros to request military assistance from a number of African countries to resolve the stalemate. This resulted in a meeting on 20 February 2008 at the AU Headquarters chaired by the Tanzanian Foreign Minister, who is the current Chair of the AU’s Council of Ministers. It was decided to dispatch a team of military experts to the Comoros with the aim of planning for the deployment of military forces to assist the Government of the Union of the Comoros to end the crisis.
In a letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of South Africa, the authorities of Anjouan signalled their willingness to conduct elections by May 2008. They further propose that such elections be preceded by the convening of an inter-Comorian Roundtable to discuss ways to resolve the outstanding issues pertaining to constitutional arrangements.
In this regard, President Mbeki dispatched a letter to President Kikwete, in his capacity as AU Chair, urging the need to encourage all the Comorian role-players to seize the opportunity to engage in a dialogue to resolve all the outstanding disagreements, including the conduct of elections in Anjouan as soon as possible.
However, on Tuesday, 25 March 2008, the Union forces assisted by an AU contingent arrived in Anjouan and have taken over the Island. We do not have full details.