- The African Union (AU) is organising an extraordinary congress on the complex political in the Comoros on Friday. Comoran delegates are to become prepared to arrange local elections and to end the power struggle on the archipelago.
In her capacities as chairwoman of the African Union (AU) Executive Council of Ministers and Coordinator of Countries of the region, South African Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma to host and chair the upcoming so-called Forum on Comoros in Pretoria.
According to the South African Foreign Ministry, the congress is to be attended by the Presidents of the three semi-autonomous Comoran Union's islands - Abdou Soulé El Bak of Grande Comore; Mohamed Said Fazul of Mohéli; and Colonel Mohamed Bacar of Anjouan.
The three regional Presidents are also Vice Presidents of the Comoran Union and are involved in a power struggle with Union President Assoumani Azali. The power sharing model between the autonomous islands and the Union presidency is still in its making.
The Comoran conference is to "focus on recent developments in the Comoros," the South African Foreign Ministry says. Further, steps were to be taken "to enable the country to hold democratic local elections as soon as possible."
While the three islands and the Union have elected their leaderships since last year's constitutional reform, preparations for local elections are still far behind schedule. As such, the agreed upon peace and reconciliation process has still not been fulfilled.
In addition, "the finalisation of the Constitutional Process" would also be discussed at the Pretoria congress. This is understood as discussions around the power sharing struggle still going on in Comoros.
The power struggle has been particular harsh on Grande Comore, where also the Union presidency is physically located. While Mr 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.
The differences in constitutional interpretation were highlighted in April by a strike on Grande Comore. Traders took to the streets to protest over paying double taxation, as both the island and Union governments claimed the right to tax them, according to UN sources.
The Comoran delegation arrived in South Africa on Sunday 15 June and was to hold meetings with several South African institutions including the Independent Electoral Commission; the Africa Institute of South Africa; the Receiver of Revenue; the Speaker of Parliament, Dr Frene Ginwala; the Speaker of the Western Cape Legislature and members of the Foreign Relations Portfolio Committee in Parliament.
The Comoros Forum was also to be attended by the African Union Commission; the Special Envoy to the Comoros, Minister Madeira of Mozambique, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Tanzania, Professor Abdulkadir Shareef, and the Governor-General of the Island of Zanzibar.
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