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Political Crisis in Comoro Worries

By Joachim Mwalongo, TOMRIC Agency (Dar es Salaam), 16 May 2001

Dar Es Salaam - Tanzania has expressed her fears over deteriorating political situation in Comoro saying it stands at a high risk of receiving an influx of refugees.

The alarm was raised here yesterday by Ambassador Hassan Kibeho, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation when briefing journalists on the just ended ministerial meeting held in Pretoria South Africa, last week.

He said the endless and escalating political crisis in Comoro would send refugees fleeing to Tanzania, an East African states apparently hosting over 800,000 refugees from the Great Lakes region. The political crisis in Comoro started in 1997 with the cessation of the Island of Anjuan, followed by a military coup d'etat on the main Comoro Island (Grande Comoros). Being more close to Tanzania than any other country, the Ambassador said the country was well positioned to face a bigger risk of getting affected by the conflict.

"Tanzania supports the position taken by the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and governments of countries neighboring the Comoro Islands on a need to implement resolution to end the conflict," he said when briefing on the outcome of the meeting.

Explaining, he said African countries have given a seven-moth ultimatum to warring parties in Comoro islands to quickly implement the Framework Agreement for Reconciliation in the Comoro also signed February this year.

He named five major issues contained in the peace agreement for the Comoro, which should be implemented as establishment of an independent national electoral commission and forming a transitional union government. Others include rewriting the Comoro's constitution, holding fresh general elections and respect of territorial integrity by warring parties.

He said the meeting also decided not to lift the economic sanctions imposed on the Comoros until warring parties start implementing the Framework Agreement for Reconciliation. He said lifting of the sanctions would be considered in the next OAU meeting in Lusaka Zambia. He said that at the meeting they discovered those main problems facing Comoro were poverty and backwardness or underdevelopment. He said however that already the World Bank, African Development Bank and Islamic Development Bank have expressed their readiness to assist Comoro financially, should the country implement recommended peace agreement.

Others, which have expressed their readiness to support Comoro financially, were France, South Africa and the European Union. The Pretoria meeting was attended by foreign ministers from countries surrounding the Islamic Federal Republic of the Comoro and OAU. The countries include Tanzania, Mozambique, South Africa, Mauritius, Madagascar, Seychelles and Kenya. Apart from the countries listed above, other members attended the meeting came from Togo and Zambia. OAU's delegation was led by Ambassador Said Djinnit, the Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs.

Copyright 2001 TOMRIC Agency. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).