- After meeting with French Foreign Minister Dominique Villepin in Paris today and yesterday, Comoran President Azali Assoumani today presented a new agreement to enhance the bilateral relations between France and the Comoros.
According to a statement by the spokesman of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Minister Villepin today and yesterday had had successful talks with the President of the Union of the Comoros, Azali Assoumani.
- France and the Comoros are in agreement of the need to reinforce the bilateral relations, because of the special historical, cultural and human ties which link our two countries, the French spokesman said. Also the proximity of the French island of Mayotte and the presence of a strong Comoran community in France were highlighted.
The French government however gave no details on how the Franco-Comoran relations were to be enhanced, except for general French support to the Comoran democratisation process.
French-Comoran relations have been rather cool - compared to France's links to most of its ex-colonies - due to the chaotic political situation on the archipelago until last year. Also President Azali's poor democratic record - he originally came to power in a 1999 military coup - have poisoned these relations.
The Parisian talks had related to the internal Comoran reconciliation process and on means of arriving, through national dialogue, to the organisation of legislative elections within short time. The French Minister had emphasises on the need of holding these elections.
On behalf of the French government, Mr Villepin had promised the Comoran President his aid in bringing the conflicting parties' views together. This however had to happen in the framework of the current efforts by the international community, led by the African Union and South Africa.
The Paris meeting with President Azali was reported to be a follow-up to a meeting Mr Villepin had had on 15 May with its Comoran counterpart, Souef El Amine, in Paris. At this meeting, also internal Comoran politics had been discussed.
The French government, at both meetings had emphasised on its continued support of the so-called "Fomboni Agreement" of February 2001. This agreement ended four years of separatism on the island of Anjouan and foresaw a less centralised Comoran state, autonomy for the three islands of Grande Comore, Anjouan and Moheli and the organisation of democratic elections at all levels.
By now, most points of the Fomboni Agreement have been fulfilled. A new Comoran Union has been established, based on a complicated Union constitution and three autonomous islands' constitutions. Presidential elections have been held on all three islands and for the Union, but local elections are still to be held.
The reconciliation process in Comoros has further been delayed by an ongoing power struggle by the democratically elected Presidents of the three autonomous islands and President Azali's Union government. Mr Azali, who is said to have won the Union's presidency by widespread election fraud, is trying to gain control state institutions at the cost of the islands' governments.
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