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Constitutional Rule In Anjouan

Comoran rebel leader Colonel Mohammed Bacar is in the custody of French authorities on the island of Reunion. The insurgent leader was transferred there after fleeing to Mayotte, following his ouster from Anjouan by Comoros government troops supported by forces from the African Union.

U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack issued a statement saying the U.S. commends the African Union for its “efforts to assist the government of the Union of the Comoros to restore constitutional rule on the island of Anjouan.”

In May 2006, citizens of the Comoros elected Union President Ahmed Abdallah Mohamed Sambi in elections that international observers described as free and fair. This was the first peaceful transfer of power in the country’s history.

In defiance of the union government decision to delay the island president election on Anjouan, former Anjouan island president Bacar held an illegal island presidential election on June 10, 2007. Bacar declared himself the winner of the election and exercised authoritarian control of the island. According to the U.S. State Department’s latest human rights report, “forces loyal to Bacar arbitrarily detained, imprisoned, and prevented gatherings of Bacar’s critics; and certain individuals were restricted from entering or leaving the island.”

Earlier this month, Comoros government forces and African Union troops from Tanzania, Senegal, and Sudan retook Anjouan. Bacar and twenty-two other insurgents fled to the French-governed island of Mayotte. They were taken to the island of Reunion where they are reportedly facing charges including weapons possession and illegal immigration.

“African Union support to democratically elected Comoran President Sambi was timely and appropriate,” said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack. The United States, said Mr. McCormack, supports “Comoran plans to hold new elections on Anjouan as soon as possible, and look forward to supporting Comoros’ full integration into the international economic and trade community.”