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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
08ANTANANARIVO137 2008-02-19 11:35:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Antananarivo
Cable title:  

COMOROS WAITS FOR ZUMA; ASSEMBLES HELICOPTERS

Tags:   PREL PGOV MOPS ASEC CN 
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					  UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ANTANANARIVO 000137 

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DEPT FOR AF/E AND AF/FO

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV MOPS ASEC CN
SUBJECT: COMOROS WAITS FOR ZUMA; ASSEMBLES HELICOPTERS

REF: ANTANANARIVO 136



1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The Government of the Union of the Comoros and
the Moroni diplomatic corps await South African (RSA) Foreign
Minister Dlamini-Zuma's decision regarding when an international
delegation might deliver an ultimatum to renegade Colonel Mohamed
Bacar of Anjouan. The Union has obtained two helicopters with
crews, reportedly Ukrainian, which they are assembling to use in the
possible attack on Anjouan. Ministers of Senegal, Tanzania, Libya,
Sudan, and the Comoros will reportedly meet February 20 in Addis
Ababa to discuss the Anjouan impasse. If the Dlamini-Zuma Mission
does not take place soon after that meeting, President Sambi's
advisors tell us he will take unilateral action to depose Bacar and
hold island elections in Anjouan. The French have issued a
statement of support for the Union government; we recommend a
similar statement from the Department (Septel). END SUMMARY.

Waiting For Dlamini-Zuma
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2. (SBU) At a February 18 meeting hosted by the African Union in
Moroni, assembled diplomats discussed next steps to peacefully
resolve the Anjouan impasse before President Sambi makes good on his
promise to act alone. RSA Ambassador Mabeta confirmed "100% that
Dlamini-Zuma is coming," but was at pains to emphasize that
"logistics," not FM Dlamini-Zuma's calendar, were holding up
confirmation of a delegation to deliver an ultimatum to Anjouan
rebel leader Bacar. He added that Dlamini-Zuma, "will not represent
South Africa, but comes in her capacity as an AU representative."
When she picks a date to come, reportedly between February 20 and
23, Dlamini-Zuma will be accompanied by AU Envoy Madeira, a French
Minister (if available), a Tanzanian delegate, and a U.S. Embassy
diplomat.



3. (SBU) Assembled diplomats agreed to three steps in the coming
days. First, Ministers of Defense and Foreign Affairs from Senegal,
Tanzania, Libya, Sudan, and the Comoros will meet February 20 in
Addis Ababa. Comoran Foreign Minister Jaffar and Minister of
Defense Dossar will attend. Second, FM Dlamini-Zuma will lead a
delegation to Anjouan to insist Bacar step down, accept
internationally-organized elections, or face the consequences. AU
Ambassador Mourad suggested "some countries" would be willing to
accept Bacar in exile. Third, the AU Peace and Security Council
will meet to Addis Ababa February 23 or 24 to make a political
decision based on Bacar's response. If Bacar remains intransigent,
the diplomatic corps (and of course the Union) hopes the AU will
expand the mandate to include helping Sambi depose Bacar by force.
At a minimum they expect the AU will approve individual member
states offering military and/or financial support for the Union of
the Comoros in its action to restore the Union.

Helos Delivered, Clock Ticking
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



4. (SBU) During the same week these three steps play out,
Ukrainians are assembling two helicopters for the Union Army of
National Development (AND) to use in an offensive against Anjouan.
The two helicopters, one bright orange and the other beige, appear
to be civilian rescue aircraft. Both arrived in Moroni overnight
February 17 in a large cargo plane. As of February 18, their rotors
and tail sections were not yet assembled. At the AU meeting, both
the Senegalese AU Colonel and French Ambassador asserted it will
take until at least February 25 for the helicopters to be ready and
for the AND to have some training with them. Ukrainian flight and
maintenance crews are operating the helicopters. The Chinese
Ambassador reported that Chinese doctors running a malaria project
in Moheli, where the AND is staging for its operation, have been
instructed to be ready to treat Union casualties once hostilities
begin.



5. (SBU) President Sambi has rattled his sword publicly, expressing
dismay at being abandoned by the AU and vowing to depose Bacar by
force. His advisor, Nakchamy Nailani, told EmbOff the President
will not wait once he is ready. She noted that in 2007, President
Sambi was disappointed with FM Dlamini-Zuma for "negotiating" with
Bacar when the mission was meant to deliver a threat. Sambi
reportedly has little confidence Dlamini-Zuma will be sufficiently
firm this time.

Conditions on Anjouan
- - - - - - - - - - -



6. (SBU) A human rights NGO leader told EmbOff February 18 that
Bacar's forces intimidate the population. He said arrests and

ANTANANARI 00000137 002 OF 002


beatings are common, but said he had no evidence of killings or mass
rapes. While Anjouanese are suffering, he said such reports are
exaggerations based on the Comoran affinity for rumor and the desire
to stir up anti-Bacar sentiment. AU Ambassador Mourad reported that
Bacar had arrested several members of his own gendarmes and
civilians, perhaps in a crackdown ahead of the expected offensive.

U.S. Participation Welcome
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -



7. (SBU) Union Vice President Idi Nadhoim thanked EmbOff February
19 for American efforts to resolve the Anjouan stand-off. He again
expressed appreciation for A/S Frazer's recent visit to the country.
VP Idi said it was a mistake that President Sambi did not accept
the Secretary's invitation to come to Washington.

French Condemn Bacar
- - - - - - - - - - -



8. (SBU) A local newspaper headline reported February 19 that the
French Foreign Ministry website posted a statement condemning
Colonel Bacar; no doubt addressing Comorans' suspicions of French
involvement. The article noted the United States will participate
with the RSA, AU, Tanzanian, and French to deliver the ultimatum to
Bacar. Septel provides a rough translation of the French text and a
proposed similar U.S. statement.

COMMENT: Waiting For the Last Chance
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



9. (SBU) Ambassador Mabeta's comments about Dlamini-Zuma set eyes
rolling. Post shares the frustration of our diplomatic and Union
colleagues over Dlamini-Zuma having postponed her arrival to an
uncertain date. Despite Union rhetoric, Post sees many reasons for
President Sambi to hesitate just a little longer. Even with
helicopters, AND victory is far from certain. Further, any scenario
for an invasion of Anjouan includes substantial casualties,
including among civilians. Sambi has not rushed to this decision,
but for almost a year this democratic leader has been barred from
governing or even visiting almost half his people who live under
Bacar's military rule in Anjouan. END COMMENT.

MARQUARDT