September 25, 2009 / 5:15 PM / 9 years ago

Comoros president offers France a new deal on Mayotte

MORONI (Reuters) - The president of the Comoros has presented a plan to the United Nations to convince the island of Mayotte to remain within the four-island Indian Ocean state with a separate administration, and not to become part of France.

“(I propose) the four islands of the Comoros archipelago remain a single, undivided nation ruled by the fundamental principle of one country, two administrations,” Ahmed Abdallah Sambi told the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday.

In March, Mayotte’s 186,000 people voted overwhelmingly in favour of the island becoming an overseas French department — a change in status that will end local traditions such as polygamy and Islamic courts.

Observers say the Comoros government has no leverage over Mayotte but Sambi is determined the four islands should remain a unified sovereign state.

France remains the biggest trading partner and provider of development aid to the Comoros, while more than 200,000 Comorians — close to one third of the archipelago’s population — live in France.

The volcanic islands have a turbulent history, with some 20 coups or attempted coups since declaring independence from France in 1975.

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