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Africa
Comorans protest after Bacar flees
Comoros president urges calm amid anger at deposed leader's flight to French island.
Last Modified: 28 Mar 2008 14:10 GMT
Protesters demanded that Bacar be sent back
to Comoros to face trial [AFP]
Ahmed Abdalla Sambi, president of Comoros, has urged peaceful demonstrations against France after it moved the defeated president of Anjouan island to Reunion.

Mohammed Bacar fled by speedboat to the nearby French-ruled island of Mayotte after an African Union backed military invasion.
Several thousand Comorans on Friday demanded that the former Anjouan leader be extradited in the Comoros to stand trial on charges of torture.

"You are right to express your dissatisfaction, but do not resort to violence," Sambi said.
The Union of Comoros government has issued an international arrest warrant for Bacar, who Simba has accused of planning to seek independence for Anjouan.

"If France doesn't want to extradite him to a country where the death penalty is still in force, then it should hand him over to  another court such as the one in The Hague," Sambi said.
  
The Dutch city hosts the International Criminal Court, which prosecutes individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Asylum request

Bacar has asked France for asylum but in Reunion he is expected to be charged for weapon possession and for entering the island of Mayotte illegally.

Comoros factfile


The Indian archipelago nation consists of three islands: Grand Comore, Moheli and Anjouan

Each island has its own president and administrative authorities

The Union of Comoros central government is led by President Ahmed Abdallah Sambi

Anjouan is home to about 300,000 of the archipelago's 700,000 population

The country has seen 19 coups or attempted coups since independence from France in 1975

The news that Bacar was in Mayotte prompted hundreds of Comorans to demonstrate outside the French embassy in the capital Moroni, chanting slogans against France and its president.

During the protests, one Frenchman who works as head of the French school in Moroni, was attacked by a mob on his way to work.

Many residents of the Comoros suspect France of covertly protecting Bacar, despite the former colonial power providing assistance in transporting African Union troops. 

The federal government of Comoros had refused to recognise Bacar's re-election as the island's president last June and vowed to remove him.  

However, Bacar and a force of several hundred armed police continued to control the island until Tuesday, when an estimated 1,400 AU and Comoros invaded the island to re-establish federal rule.

US backing


In Washington, Sean McCormack, state department spokesman praised the military action.

 

"We commend the African Union's efforts to assist the Government of the Union of the Comoros to restore constitutional rule on the island of Anjouan," McCormack said.

 

"The United States supports plans to hold new elections on Anjouan as soon as practicable."

  

Ikililou Dhoinine, the Comoros vice-president was on Anjouan and would head a central government delegation until a transitional government could be put in place, according to Ali Mmadi, a cabinet minister.

 

"This transitional government will be set up by week's end," Abdourahim Said Bakar, a government spokesman, said.

 

Since independence in 1975, Comoros has had 19 coups and attempted coups.
Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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