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Comoros Demands France Hand Over Rebel Leader


The Comoran government is demanding France hand over a rebel leader for trial, but France says it is considering granting him asylum.

Comoros Thursday said Mohamed Bacar should be returned to the African island nation to be tried for allegedly torturing his opponents when he illegally ruled the island of Anjouan.

Paris has confirmed Bacar is being held on the French-run island of Mayotte, where he escaped after Comoran and African Union forces seized control of Anjouan Tuesday.

French officials say Bacar will be transferred to the French-administered island of Reunion while Paris considers his request for asylum.

Comorans angry about France's actions demonstrated outside the French embassy in the Comoran capital, Moroni, today. Police fired tear gas to disperse the protesters.

The Comoran government says it will install an interim administration on Anjouan by the end of this week, and expects to hold general elections there on May 13.

Comoros consists of three islands in the Indian Ocean. Each of the islands has a regional president under the country's main leader. Bacar, who was elected in 2001, refused to step down last July when the other islands held presidential elections.

Comoros has a history of instability, having endured at least 19 coups or coup attempts since independence from France in 1975.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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