The strangest invasion in history? was the assault on Anjouan island really necessary or was it a convenient and easy face-saving victory for AU peacekeepers? Tom Nevin examines the evidence.
It was one of the strangest invasions in history; it was probably also the most unnecessary. The attackers were a detachment of Comoros government soldiers backed by 1,350 African Union African Union (AU), international organization established in 2002 by the nations of the former Organization of African Unity (OAU). The AU is the successor organization to the OAU, with greater powers to promote African economic, social, and political integration, (AU) peacekeeping troops. Their target was the island of Anjouan where rebel leader Colonel Mohamed Bacar Colonel Mohamed Bacar (born May 5, 1962 in Barakani, Anjouan) was president of Anjouan, one of the three autonomous islands that make up the Union of the Comoros. He is a former chief of police on Anjouan and has studied extensively in France and the United States. had taken the island out of the Comoros Union after what the central government described as a "bogus election".
As a flag-waving opportunity for the AU, however, it was irresistible. Following lacklustre lacklustre or US lackluster
lacking brilliance, force, or vitality
Adj. 1. lacklustre - lacking brilliance or vitality; "a dull lackluster life"; "a lusterless performance" performances in Darfur and Congo the AU as a keeper of the peace was in serious need of a victory--as much to boost its own sagging morale as to uplift its image in increasingly sceptical regional and global political circles. So it went in boots 'n' all as back-up to the Comorian army to put down the rebellion on Anjouan Island and emerged covered in dubious glory.
What appeared to make the power play unnecessary was the fact that Bacar had offered to rerun re·run
The act or an instance of rebroadcasting a recorded movie or a recorded television performance.
tr.v. re·ran , re·run, re·run·ning, re·runs
To present a rerun of. the election within two weeks; even South African President Thabo Mbeki's diplomatic intervention was given just three days to bear fruit before it was brushed aside and the shooting started. (See box.) Bacar, who came to power in a 2001 coup backed by 500 French-trained troops, had staged an election in June last year by printing his own ballot papers and subsequently claiming a landslide victory In politics, a landslide victory (or just a landslide) is the victory of a candidate or political party by an overwhelming majority in an election.
Landslides can occur when one candidate or party is perceived as far superior to its opponents, through unfair . The central government rejected the ballot and demanded fresh elections, but Bacar wanted talks first. The status of Anjouan has been a point of dissension for the past decade and has led to frequent clashes between separatist Anjouanese and government troops. At issue was Anjouan's unhappiness with the Comoro archipelago's union government centred in the capital of Moroni on Grand Comoros Island. Matters came to a head in late March this year when the secessionist leadership demanded "separation, nothing less".
At the same time the flag of the self-proclaimed state was raised alongside the flag of France The national flag of France (known in French as drapeau tricolore, drapeau bleu-blanc-rouge, drapeau français, rarely, le tricolore and, in military parlance, les couleurs , Comoros' former colonial administrator. After elections on Anjouan, denounced by the central government as illegal, the new leaders of the breakaway island of 250,000 people demanded separation from the Comoros and return to colonial status under French rule. A celebration march after the election was headed by a picture of former French leader Jacques Chirac with the slogan "La France La France was a single that was released by Dutch popgroup BZN in 1986. It is about a man and woman who met and fell in love while in France. pour tous" (France for all).
The self-imposed Anjouan government was reported by Comoros newspaper Le Journal de L'Ile as saying there were two options for Anjouan: Reunification re·u·ni·fy
tr.v. re·u·ni·fied, re·u·ni·fy·ing, re·u·ni·fies
To cause (a group, party, state, or sect) to become unified again after being divided. with France or independence in association with France. French officials quickly rejected this, apparently concerned over fallout on neighbouring Mayotte and Reunion, which France still controls.
France had ultimately backed the AU decision to invade, in accordance with EU agreements to support regional organisations after attempts at diplomatic solution produced little result. "We remain in support of dialogue and a peaceful solution to this crisis," said Pascale Andreani, the spokesperson for the French Foreign Ministry. "Colonel Bacar must immediately confirm his agreement to organise elections in Anjouan in the nearfuture and to allow the AU troops to take up position at the port and the airport in Anjouan to make the elections safe."
The AU military contingent had arrived on 22 March in the harbour of Fomboni on Moheli Island, ready to invade neighbouring Anjouan by sea that night or the following day. The troops were stood down when Mbeki intervened appealing for a last-ditch diplomatic intercession intercession,
n a prayer in which a request is made on behalf of another person. to be given a chance. The execution of the raid was stayed for three days. When little sign of a breakthrough had appeared by 25 March, the operation swung into action and the invaders took to the sea for the short crossing in four assault craft.
The military expedition made a noisy landing on Anjouan, detonating det·o·nate
intr. & tr.v. det·o·nat·ed, det·o·nat·ing, det·o·nates
To explode or cause to explode.
[Latin d grenades and firing their rifles. There was little resistance. From the landing the invasion moved swiftly and in a matter of hours Mohamed Dosara, the Comoros defence chief of staff, was able to report by phone: "We have now taken the Anjouan capital."
Of Colonel Bacar there was no sign. He had slipped off the island with about 20 supporters and fled by speedboat to the nearby French-ruled island of Mayotte. They were later moved to Reunion, another French administered island in the region. On arrival in Reunion they were charged with illegally entering French territory and breaking weapons laws.
The Comoros government immediately issued an international arrest warrant for Bacar, accused by Ahmed Abdalla Sambi, president of Comoros, of rebellion and planning to seek independence for Anjouan.
"If France doesn't want to extradite ex·tra·dite
v. ex·tra·dit·ed, ex·tra·dit·ing, ex·tra·dites
1. To give up or deliver (a fugitive, for example) to the legal jurisdiction of another government or authority.
2. him to a country where the death penalty is still in force, then it should hand him over to another court such as the one in The Hague," said Sambi.
On Reunion, Bacar asked France for asylum but first had to face the charges of weapons possession and for entering the island of Mayotte illegally. Citing a technical glitch A temporary or random hardware malfunction. It is possible that a bug in a program may cause the hardware to appear as if it had a glitch in it and vice versa. At times it can be extremely difficult to determine whether a problem lies within the hardware or the software. See glitch attack. , the court annulled proceedings against the deposed rebel leader, opening the way for him to apply for asylum in France. That case is pending. The Comoros vice-president, Ikililou Dhoinine, was despatched to Anjouan to head a central government delegation until a transitional administration could be put in place.
The invasion, criticised by Mbeki as "unnecessary", has been questioned by analysts, bringing the issue of peacekeeping efforts under the microscope. As a public relations exercise Public Relations Exercise is a Leicester, England based Hardcore/Alternative outfit. The energetic 5 piece combine aspects of Screamo and Math Rock styles, layered with penatrative and socially observant vocals. , the invasion produced mixed results for the AU's capabilities as Africa's policeman. While it might have earned some international prestige, the invasion of Anjouan also underscored the organisation's limitations in dealing effectively with more demanding missions such as Darfur, Somalia and Congo.
RELATED ARTICLE: AU Response
A Sledgehammer See Opteron. to cracka peanut
Some critics of the island assault accused the AU of "using a sledgehammer to crack a peanut". The AU's previous military missions, in Somalia and Sudan's wartorn Darfur Province, ended ignominiously ig·no·min·i·ous
1. Marked by shame or disgrace: "It was an ignominious end ... as a desperate mutiny by a handful of soldiers blossomed into full-scale revolt" Angus Deming. and inconclusively and the organisation was in urgent need of a victory. Mbeki was critical of what was described as the high-handed and hasty military action when political measures were in place to resolve the conflict.
"It seems to us that there was no need to deploy any military forces as the government of the Comoros had undertaken to rerun the elections in May," says Mbeki, while his foreign minister, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma Doctor Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini-Zuma (born 27 January 1949) is a South African politician and was an anti-apartheid activist. Since 17 June 1999 she has been the South African Minister of Foreign Affairs. , noted that "there is no violence, no loss of life, no social unrest" and that it was "unusual to go militarily into Comoros".
According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. Dlamini-Zuma, the real war was about whether the discusions come first and then elections, or elections first and then discussions later. "The Anjouanese authorities have given a date, they've said 'let's have a discussion and have the elections by May', which we thought could be a basis for solving this diplomatically," the minister said. In her view talks would have had to be held anyway, since the central government was itself guilty of irregularities. When the invasion was launched she observed that attempts at brokering peace had failed.
"There are countries that have needed the call of the president of Comoros to assist him to solve the problem militarily. So that is what is happening. But we believe that it could have still been done diplomatically. It's a small thing."
RELATED ARTICLE: Anjouan
A swashbuckling swash·buck·le
intr.v. swash·buck·led, swash·buck·ling, swash·buck·les
To act as a swashbuckler, as in a movie or play.
[Back-formation from swashbuckler. history
Since its inception, Anjouan (also known as Ndzuwani or Nzwani) has had a free-spirited hankering after independence. To all intents and purposes Adv. 1. to all intents and purposes - in every practical sense; "to all intents and purposes the case is closed"; "the rest are for all practical purposes useless"
for all intents and purposes, for all practical purposes the 424sq km island ruled itself from within the island state of the Union of Comoros, an archipelago Archipelago (ärkĭpĕl`əgō) [Ital., from Gr.=chief sea], ancient name of the Aegean Sea, later applied to the numerous islands it contains. The word now designates any cluster of islands. of three beautiful but impoverished islands whose only means of economic support is sporadic tourism, vanilla and the export of ylang-ylang flowers reputed to be the world's most magnificent. Tourism is an off-and-on economic activity.
Comoros has been the scene of 19 coups d'etat since independence 33 years ago. Its capital is Mutsamudu and its population is about 277,500.
The first inhabitants
The game is based loosely on the concepts from SameGame. of the island were explorers and immigrants from Indonesia and Polynesia. They were joined by other Indian Ocean Indian Ocean, third largest ocean, c.28,350,000 sq mi (73,427,000 sq km), extending from S Asia to Antarctica and from E Africa to SE Australia; it is c.4,000 mi (6,400 km) wide at the equator. It constitutes about 20% of the world's total ocean area. islanders Islanders may refer to:
In 1997, the islands of Anjouan and Moheli declared independence from Comoros, but were reunified with the island union in 2002, under a new constitution that conferred autonomy within the Comoros and allowed the election of a president.
Mohamed Bacar, leader of the separatist government since 2001, was elected for a five-year term. His tenure expired in April 2007. President of the assembly, Houmadi Caambi, became acting president but was overthrown by forces loyal to Bacar.
Peace talks were convened between the Union government and the local regime. They agreed to hold free elections in which Bacar would stand. Impatient at what he saw as delaying tactics by the Union government, Bacar's followers unilaterally printed ballots and held an election in June. The result, as expected, was an overwhelming victory of 90%. Less than a month later, in July 2007, he once again declared the island of Anjouan independent of the Comoros.