A meeting is to be held today (Tuesday) in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa to find ways to bring down the brewing political tension in the Comoros Islands. This follows a call by embattled Anjouanese President Mohamed Bacar for dialogue to end the political crisis. But the Comoros national government has dismissed Bacar?s invitation saying it does not recognize him as the legitimate president of Anjouan.
Meanwhile, the national government and the African Union blame Bacar for the unrest on the Island.
Ahmed Gaffar is the foreign minister for the Comoro Islands. From the capital, Moroni, he tells reporter Peter Clottey that the government would only hold talks if there is free and fair election in Anjouan.
?We are all ready, but the first problem is we must take the election in Anjouan. We are open and we will discuss with them. But we must have firstly, a proper government, a legal government and then we are very, very open to discuss with them about all the issues,? Gaffar noted.
He said although the national government is ready to hold peace talks with the Anjouanese government, the proper thing must be done before any credible talks could be held.
?We are ready to discuss together, but we think that as we held elections in Moheli? Anjouan must have the election. And after we discuss together, we don?t have any problems with that. And we know that the solution must come with Comorians. So now we must stay and analyze this problem?this government is not legal, (so) how can we stay with them to discuss about this crisis? You know this crisis asphyxiates the development of this country,? he said.
Gaffar reiterated the need for a fresh, free and fair presidential election in Anjouan.
?Before making (finding) a solution we must have democratic election. And sure we can discuss with them if they win the election in Anjouan, even Mohamed Bacar. We can discuss with them because then we see that Anjouan people chose him as president of the island, but now he is not the president of the Island,? Gaffar pointed out.
He said despite repeated calls by the international community for a fresh round of election, Bacar has refused to co-operate.
?You know last Monday there was an African mission with special envoy of the African Union, he was in Anjouan to discuss with Colonel Bacar about Pretoria?s conclusions. They said that firstly, we must take the election in Anjouan with the African union forces providing security for the election there, and then after we must have a debate about constitutional issues. Bacar told them that no we had our election in 10th of June, so now we can?t take another election,? he said.
Gaffar said the national government would not cooperate with Bacar?s government because that would be against the wish of Anjouanese.
?Now we don?t have any contact with this government in Anjouan. And we can?t have this contact because Anjouan people prefer to see what the union government can do. And if we try to make contact with them then we will lose our confidence with the Anjouan people,? Gaffar noted.
He said there would be meeting in Ethiopia to find a solution to the political stalemate in Anjouan.
?Tomorrow there would be a meeting in Addis Ababa about the peace and security concerns. We would see the conclusion for this meeting,? he said.