Remarks by President Thabo Mbeki at the Comoros Donors Conference, Mauritius, 8 December 2005

Thank you very much Director of Ceremonies, Prime Minister Ramgoolam, Prime Minister of Republic Mauritius, President Azali of the Union of Comoros, Leader of the opposition Paul Berengel of Republic of Mauritius, good to see you. And distinguished representatives of the International Organisations, the United Nations (UN), the African Union (AU), the Arab League, Francophone.

Let me join the Prime Minister of Mauritius in saying thank you very much indeed to all of you for coming here.

We are indeed very pleased that you could take time to come to Mauritius for what we believe is a very important Donor Conference.

Our view is that what President Azali and the government of the Comoros are asking for is actually very little. In terms of the capacity of the international community to respond to this challenge, I think we can, and hopefully we will today respond to this challenge in full.

The statistics distributed by the government of the Union of Comoros show that the population is 576 000; it is not many people.

Here we have a small island state, one of the least developed countries on our continent. It has major challenges as reflected in the documents prepared by the government including the Growth Poverty Reduction Programme 2006/2009. But I think what is inspiring about the Union of the Comoros is what they have been doing to overcome the process of instability that has lasted for 30 years.

I think I can say this President Azali, President Azali has been pestering me over the last four weeks about the forthcoming Presidential Elections and when I say President I understood you the first time, he explains again about the critical importance of these elections and that they have to succeed in particular with Anjuan being the next candidate as our colleague here was indicating. The critical importance here is that the elections must happen. Therefore we need to create the conditions to make sure that these elections take place and that they are indeed free and fair.

We were joking about this with him earlier that if we did not succeed last Sunday to find a Prime Minister when we went to Abidjan he could then take over as Prime Minister of Cote d'Ivoire.

I am mentioning this really to say; here is a small island state of 576 000 people, least developed, many challenges. You can see that as you walk around Comoros.

There is a great determination to say we need to move beyond the past, which is a past of instability; of all sorts of things that went wrong. Let us now do the right thing .Here are these 576 000 people. They say to us here who represent billions can you please help us to this tiny tiny amount of assistance just over 250 million Dollars.

Help us over this three year period so that we can reinforce this democratic peaceful processes by bringing change, material change to the lives of the people ,its two lags ,two things that must reinforce each other.

Thank you very much for coming and I am quite sure that we shall all of us be able to respond with the necessary generosity to this appeal, surely if we cant help a nation a country of only 576 000 people then it means indeed the future of humanity must indeed be very bleak.

But I am sure we are going to show by what we decide today that indeed there is hope even for those among us who suffer from this grinding poverty that anybody can see very clearly, very visibly in the Comoros, but I think those people need this lag up as they entrench democracy as they entrench stability and as they reconcile amongst themselves, the step up that only the people here can give.

Thank you very much indeed for coming and let's make the necessary progress.

Thank you very much Programme Director.

Issued by: The Presidency
8 December 2005


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