- A delegation from the African Union, led by South African Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, tomorrow heads to Comoros "s part of efforts to help the Comoran people find a speedy resolution to their constitutional crisis."
This followed the exclusion of the Comoros in July 2000 from participating in the meetings of the Organisation for African Unity (OAU) and its successor, the AU, and business of the organisation stemming from the Lomé Declaration that prohibits the unconstitutional transfer of power.
Consequently the OAU, and subsequently the AU, charged South Africa, Madagascar, Mauritius, Tanzania and Mozambique under the leadership of Minister Dlamini Zuma to "assist the Comoran people in finding a resolution to their constitutional crisis."
Since then several visits to the Comoros by the OAU/AU delegation have taken place and sufficient progress made towards a return to a constitutional order, according to the South African Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Accordingly, elections for the president of the Union of Comoros and the presidents of the autonomous islands took place under international supervision in March and April 2002. These were deemed "free and fair" by OAU, although Comorans hold that the Union elections were stolen by incumbent President Assoumani Azali.
- However, there are still some outstanding obstacles towards the holding of parliamentary elections, which include among others the division of power, the budget, customs, tax revenue, and security, according to the South African ministry.
The power struggle has been particular harsh on Grande Comore, where also the Union presidency is physically located. While Mr Abdou Soule El Bak won democratic elections to the island's presidency, Union President Azali came to power in widely criticised circumstances.
Mr El Bak was not Mr Azali's candidate and the two Presidents have since been struggling over the real control over the island, such as tax revenues, police forces, etc. Both are basing themselves on weaknesses in the federal constitution.
In this context, Minister Dlamini Zuma and her delegation are scheduled to hold discussions with among others the President of the Union of Comoros, Colonel Azali, and the presidents of the Autonomous Islands Mohamed Bacar (Anjouan), Abdou Soule El Bak (Grande Comore) and Mohamed Fazul (Moheli).
The AU delegation also was to meet with the Comoran Electoral Commission, "with a view to removing obstacles towards the holding of free and fair parliamentary elections."
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