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Comoros Announces Interim Government on Anjouan Island

By Scott Bobb
26 March 2008

In the Comoros, central government troops are mopping up pockets of resistance one day after they landed on the rebel-held island of Anjouan. VOA's Scott Bobb reports from our Southern Africa Bureau in Johannesburg the central government says an interim Anjouan government will be in place soon.

The chief of the Comoros army Wednesday arrived on Anjouan as his troops, backed by African Union forces, consolidated their takeover of Anjouan Island. Lieutenant Colonel Mohamed Amiri Salimou told VOA that the island is calm.

He says the island is pacified and has now been re-united with the rest of the nation. The colonel said there were some light injuries, but he knew of no deaths from the operation.

He said about 50 rebel officials had surrendered or been arrested and that an operation was underway to capture their leader, Colonel Mohamed Bacar.

The Comoran government says it will form an interim government by the end of this week on Anjouan and that one of the federation's vice presidents would be in charge.

Comoran troops, backed by African Union forces, took control Tuesday of the major towns and port on the breakaway island.

There were reports of popular celebrations across the Comoros. But South African President Thabo Mbeki, whose government proposed a last-minute mediation of the confrontation, expressed disappointment.

"I think it is very, very unfortunate that this military action has now taken place, because it takes the Comoros back again to the use of force to solve a problem, which could very easily have been solved by negotiation," he said.

Rebel-leader Mohamed Bacar was elected president of Anjouan in 2001 under a union constitution that granted each of the three islands of the Comoros considerable autonomy and its own president. He was re-elected last year, but those elections were not recognized by the central government or the international community.

The Comoran government accuses Mohamed Bacar of corruption and human rights violations and says he will be put on trial if he is captured.

The African Union decided to back a military offensive to regain control of Anjouan after months of negotiations with the rebels. It sent about 1,400 troops from Tanzania and Sudan with logistical support from Libya, France, and the United States.

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