|Letters to the Editor
After Anjouan: What next for Tanzania?
The Tanzanian Government has taken 650 soldiers to invade Anjouan, one of the small Islands in Comoro. Under the umbrella of the African Union (AU), Tanzania resolved to battle Canal Mohammed Bacar who unlawfully declared himself leader of Anjouan, denouncing the leadership of President Ahmed Sambi.
In a press conference held in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzanian Minister for External Affairs Mr. Bernard Membe said that Tanzania had “reached the point of no return” as all diplomatic talks with Canal Bacar failed to bear fruit. Canal Bacar allegedly argued that he would do whatever it takes to make sure that the Island remains in his domain.
However it should be noted that Anjouan’s case is not unique in Africa. Tanzania has not been good in sending its troops to other conflict areas such as Somalia and Darfur in Sudan among others. Why Anjouan? Some MPs argue that the government did not follow the right channels before taking the action. The Tanzanian constitution requires parliamentary approval before engaging in a war.
The UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon has repeatedly urged African leaders to send their forces to areas of crisis such as Somalia and Darfur in Sudan but the response has been negative. Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete has not emphasised the UN call among African Countries. Instead, he has sent troops to Anjouan where the crisis is not big compared to the rest.
The good relation between Tanzania and Comoro might have been the reason behind this action.Tanzania also has commercial interests in Comoro. Almost 90% of animals slaughtered in Comoro annually come from Tanzania. This possibly informs Tanzania's involvement with Comoro’s problems.
Now that the Tanzanian army has successfully conquered Anjouan from the hands of Canal Bacar, it is high time that the efforts must be extended to other Countries in Africa where crisis are vulnerable, if president Kikwete is serious with regional peace.
By Abdul-wakil S. Saiboko