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Comoros Islands’ Political Impasse Deepens

The political impasse between the Comoros Islands’ union government and embattled Anjoaun President Mohamed Bacar has taken a dramatic turn after the union government turned down Bacar’s demand Tuesday for dialogue to end the political crisis. The union government maintains that Bacar should step down for free and fair elections so that Anjouanese would choose their leader. But Bacar said he would only allow elections in Anjouan if all the other islands hold simultaneous elections as stipulated in the constitution. Bacar adds that he was prepared to re-run the controversial election and for talks to end an African Union sea blockade against his government.

The African Union imposed a travel ban on 150 officials in Bacar’s government and laid down a sea blockade early in November in an attempt to force Bacar to step down and hold fresh elections. But observers believe sanctions and the blockade have not attained their intended objective.

Ahmed Gaffar is the foreign minister of the union government. From the Comoros capital, Moroni he tells reporter Peter Clottey that Bacar’s presidency is illegal.

“Our reaction is a confirmation and a surprise firstly because we wee waiting about this measure, and we thought that today we were going to a stronger measure. So now Bacar insist to speak about dialogue, but our position is still the same. We can’t make dialogue with Bacar because he is illegal. So now the African Union must know that since Bacar is still illegal, we can’t have a discussion with him. So the roundtable, which he (Bacar) wants, we think that we must go to the elections and then if he is elected, we can have a discussion with him,” Gaffar pointed out.

He said Bacar’s demand that he would only allow elections in Anjouan if elections were held simultaneously in all the other islands is a non-starter.

“We explained that the two islands - Grande Comoro and Moheli - we took the elections here and it was a fair elections. So now we can’t replay those elections in Grande Comoro and Moheli. It’s not possible. Even the electoral law says that the elections must be held one day on the three islands, but the day we took these elections Bacar was a rebel. So it wasn’t possible to make in Anjoaun, but in Grande Comoro and Moheli, there were observers from the Indian Ocean Commission, the African union, so it was a fair election,” he said.

Gaffar said the union government would decide the next line of action to take against Anjouanese President Mohamed Bacar.

“Today we took after the decision by the African Union, the decision of the Peace and Security Council. So now we plan to sit with them and African Union. We will continue with this measure because we took another two months, which is too long for us. So if we can reduce the time we would sit with them, with the African Union of course,” Gaffar noted.

He said although military option against Bacar is not off the table, the union government does not want was in Anjouan.

“No. Till now, we tried to see if we can get a solution without war in Anjouan,” he said.