SA seeks talks to avert Comoran conflict

South African Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma called on Tuesday for eleventh-hour talks in Comoros as African Union troops prepared to support federal forces in a bid to take control of the rebel island of Anjouan.

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was speaking as Comoran government troops and African Union-mandated contingents from Senegal, Sudan and Tanzania prepared to take back control of Anjouan island from renegade leader Mohamed Bacar.

”The Anjouan authorities want discussion first on matters of governance and interpretation of the constitution,” she said.

”The federal government first wants the disputed elections dissolved. We believe that there is still the possibility of solving this dispute diplomatically,” added Dlamini-Zuma, who played a pivotal role in mediating a power-sharing Comoros Constitution.

Anjouan is one of the three islands in the Indian Ocean Comoran federation.

Bacar held elections there in June last year that were deemed illegal by the AU and the Comoros federation, but he has defied appeals to step down.

The military intervention against him is also backed by the United States and former colonial power France.

The federal Comoros authorities have promised fresh elections in May on the rebel isle.

The fractious Indian Ocean archipelago has survived 19 coups or coup attempts since it acquired independence from France in 1975. — Sapa-AFP

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