- The Comoran political parties on Saturday signed an agreement to end the instability on the three islands and in the union. The agreement was facilitated by South African President Thabo Mbeki.
According to the South African Department of Foreign Affairs, the Comoran agreement "will help create a climate conducive for the holding of free and fair parliamentary elections in the autonomous islands and the mainland."
The Comoran parties agreed to the holding of parliamentary elections within 4 months from the signing of the agreement, establishment of a new customs regime, management of an interim budget and security measures before and during the elections.
Since the establishment of the Comoran Union - which gives autonomy to the three Comoran islands Grande Comore, Anjouan and Moheli - the Union's presidency and the presidency of Grande Comore have blocked each other's effort to take control of the economy and security of the archipelago's main island.
While President Assoumani Azali, a former military dictator, was elected Union President in a controversial poll, the oppositional Abdou Soule El Bak won democratic elections to the presidency of Grande Comore. Comorans have therefore seen the power struggle as a struggle between democratic (Mr El Bak) and undemocratic (Colonel Azali) forces.
The Organisation for African Unity (OAU) and its successor, the African Union (AU), took a lead in finding a solution to the Comoran conflict. The AU mediators have favoured a centralised customs and security regime, which however also is to give revenues and powers to the three island's authorities.
A delegation of the AU's countries of the region - which included South Africa, Madagascar, Tanzania, Mauritius and Mozambique - on Friday went to Moroni "to assist the people of Comoros to unlock the logjam obstructing the holding of free and fair parliamentary elections," according to South African Foreign Affairs spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa.
South African President Mbeki led the AU mediation efforts. During the last round - which on Saturday ended up in the signing of an agreement between the Comoran political foes - he was accompanied by his own Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.
In addition, the agreement was witnessed by among others representatives of France, the Prime Minister of Mauritius, the Prime Minister of Madagascar, the Head of the Francophonie Mr Diouf and Ambassador Kahn, special envoy and representative of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
The South African government today said that it "congratulates the government and people of the Comoros for the signing of the agreement." According to the spokesperson, "yet another milestone has been reached in efforts aimed at Africa's renewal."
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