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Friday, April 30, 1999 Published at 21:42 GMT 22:42 UK


World: Africa

UN condemns Comoros coup

The Comoros have endured a succession of military coups

The UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, has condemned the military coup in the Comoro Islands.

He called on all leaders to avoid violence and to work for an early return to peace and constitutional order.

Earlier on Friday, the army officer who led the bloodless coup said he would stay in power for a year.

Colonel Azali Assoumani, the army chief of staff, also pledged to stick with a deal which gives greater autonomy to two smaller islands in the Indian Ocean republic.

The army took power in the archipelago after an unsuccessful attempt to reintegrate the breakaway island of Anjouan led to violent demonstrations.

Coup condemned


[ image:  ]
The coup has also been condemned by the former colonial power, France, and by South Africa and the Organisation of African Unity.

Paris said it would review civilian and military aid to the Indian Ocean island group.

A South African foreign affairs spokesman said: "We condemn the action, which is regrettable ... after much progress was made by all parties at a conference in Madagascar last week."

Troops were reported to be on the streets of the capital, Moroni, on Friday morning, but the city was said to be calm.


Kamardine Mohamed: "People are awaiting a statement from the new strongman"
A military statement broadcast on national radio said:

"The national development army has decided to intervene, in light of the observed immobility of the authorities, to prevent the country sliding into chaos and anarchy.

"The constitution and institutions are dissolved as of this moment."

Gatherings banned

An army spokesman announced that all public gatherings were banned and that government officials had been ordered to stay in their homes.

Telephone communications were reported to be have been cut.

The army spokesman said there would be heavy punishment for anyone harassing people of Anjouanese origin.


Africa specialist Timothy Ecott: "Several near-misses to an Anjouanese autonomy agreement"
Anjounese people living in the main island, Grand Comore, have been the target of recent violence.

The Comoran army includes a large number of Anjouanese soldiers, who are said to have put pressure on the military commanders to protect their families.

Anjouan talks fail

The military takeover is the 18th coup or attempted coup since the Comoros gained independence from France in 1975.

Anjouan unilaterally declared its independence from the Comoros in 1997.

During the talks in Madagascar last week, President Tadjidine Ben Saod Massonde signed an autonomy agreement, but the delegates from Anjouan refused, saying they must first consult their people.

This sparked demonstrations, during which the 70,000-strong Anjouanese community on the main island of Grand Comore suffered attacks and intimidation.

Hundreds of Anjouanese people fled Grand Comore to return to Anjouan.

Autonomy plan

Under the Madagascar agreement:

  • The Federal Islamic Republic of the Comoros would be renamed the Union of Comoros Islands

  • Each of the three islands - Grand Comore, Anjouan and Moheli - would have its own local executive and parliament after a one-year transition period

  • The islands would have a three-year rotating presidency

  • The union would be responsible for sovereignty, defence, the currency, most aspects of foreign affairs, some aspects of education, and scientific research.




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Internet Links


Comoros information

Organisation of African Unity

Anjouan breakaway government (in French)


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