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Sudan sends troops to quell rebellion in Comoros

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March 16, 2008 (MORONI, Comoros) — Sudanese government is sending troops to participate in the African Union operation to quell a separatist rebellion on the island of Anjouan. Some 150 Sudanese soldiers arrived in Comoros on Thursday February 13.

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Mohamed Bacar (AFP)

In a new attempt to stem conflicts in the continent, the African Union has decided to support a military operation by the federal government of Comoros to dismiss Colonel Mohamed Bacar, who heads Anjouan since March 2002, but whose re-election in July 2007 is not recognized by the Union of the Comoros, led by Ahmed Abdallah Sambi.

The first batch of the 400 Sudanese troops arrived to Moroni, the capital of Comoros Islands to take part in the first AU military operation against an internal rebellion to restore the authority of federal government in the Island of Anjouan.

Five hundred Tanzanian troops arrived this week, Sudan and Senegal have offered troops, while Libya has offered financial support and logistics for military action that the United States has also said it would support. France provides the planes to transport the African troops.

The African troops will be soon deployed in Moheli Island the closest island to Anjouan. The operation is expected to involve about 1,600 African soldiers.

Comoros’ own army is 1,060 soldiers strong.

Last week Comoros rejected a call for talks from the rebel island saying the time for dialogue had passed and African Union-supported military action to take back the island was imminent.

On Saturday 15 March the federal army launched a military operation in Anjouan to release political prisoners. Two soldiers are wounded during the attack. The operation targeted the gendarmerie of Domoni, were the political prisoners are detained.

South African President Thabo Mbeki, wrapping up a two-day visit to nearby Mauritius, on Thursday March 13 had urged restraint to allow Anjouan time to hold legitimate elections. South Africa has led mediation efforts to end the crisis that has escalated since Anjouan’s leader, Mohamed Bacar, declared himself the winner of an illegal election last year.

Government officials say Bacar wants to separate from Comoros but the rebel leader says he wants more autonomy for Anjouan rather than independence. Comoros’ national government has repeatedly said a military solution is the only option left.

Comoros has a history of political instability and inter-island bickering, The Islands suffered about 20 coups or coup attempts since winning independence from France in 1975.

(ST)

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