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Comoros president Azali urges talks with Paris over illegal migrants

President Azali meets worshippers for Eid   -  
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The president of the Indian Ocean archipelago of the Comoros says he wants talks with Paris over plans to expel all illegal migrants from the French island of Mayotte, most of whom are Comorians.

Earlier Azali Assoumani had insisted Comoros would not accept any of the migrants.

Speaking on Saturday, (2 April) Azali Assoumani said: "In regards to the situation in Mayotte, I would like to assure you, my dear compatriots of the four islands, that the path chosen by the government is that of establishing a communication with our partner France. 

"I hope the French side will take into account the position of the Comorian government on the territorial dispute between our country and France on the Comorian island of Mayotte."

"We favour the pursuit of new perspectives in order to find a solution to this unfortunate dispute which has lasted for more than forty years, while respecting international law and the well understood interests of our two friendly countries."

France plans to remove illegal migrants from Mayotte's shantytowns and expel undocumented migrants, most of whom are Comorians, to the nearest Comorian island just 70 km away.

The French government has not given a precise date for the launch of the operation, dubbed "Wuambushu" (takeover, in Moroccan) by French Interior and Overseas Minister Gérald Darmanin. But some 1,800 police and gendarmes are already stationed in Mayotte.

On Friday, spokesman for the government in Moroni, Houmed Msaidie, said "the Comoros do not intend to receive deportees from the operation planned by the French government in Mayotte."

Many African and Comorian migrants die every year trying to reach Mayotte illegally, on board small overloaded fishing boats.

According to the French National Institute of Statistics (INSEE), nearly half of Mayotte's 350,000 inhabitants do not have French nationality, but a third of the island's foreigners were born there.

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