Dar presses ahead with Anjouan task By Levina Kato and Agencies THE CITIZEN Tanzania yesterday rebuffed an attempt by South Africa to halt military action to remove self-imposed President Mohamed Bacar of the Comoros island of Anjouan. Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation minister Bernard Membe said Tanzania was pushing ahead with the African Union (AU)�s decision to launch an assault against Mr Babacar despite opposition from South African President Thabo Mbeki. The military offensive begins tomorrow (today) and there is no going back, Mr Membe told The Citizen by telephone last night. He said Tanzania was surprised and taken aback by the change of heart for an invasion that had the blessings of the AU. The invasion of Anjouan, which has declared independence from the Comoros, has received tacit support from the international community, including the US and France. Mr Membe's remarks came after reports emerged that the South African leader had written to AU chairman President Jakaya Kikwete last Friday, asking him to shelve the military intervention in the Comoros. The intervention is aimed at ending a long running political crisis on the islands. Mr Membe said any defence of the rebel leader was unacceptable. AU has reached a point of no return�it is going ahead with the mission, he said. Tanzania has sent 750 soldiers, the largest from a single country to the front line. Senegal, Sudan and the Comoros itself are to provide the balance of the 1,800-strong contingent of soldiers to be deployed on the islands. For some time, South Africa has been involved in efforts to resolve the situation and Mr Mbeki's overtures were renewed after the department of foreign affairs received a letter this week from Mr Bacar. Pretoria is now engaged in efforts to make the suspension of the invasion stick and find lasting peace. Mr Membe confirmed that President Kikwete had received a letter from Mr Mbeki regarding the military intervention in the Comoros, but added that it was too late to stop the mission to eject Mr Babacar. President Mbeki wrote to Kikwete as head of AU informing him of his government's position, but we told him that AU has reached a point of no return we are intent on accomplishing our mission, he said. Mr Membe was quoted by a South African paper branding Mr Bacar a liar for not sticking to resolutions reached at nine past dialogues since 2002. The AU is accusing the rebel leader of undertaking unjustifiable actions against Comoro's people. He has allegedly claimed succession of the union after pulling down the flag, privatising state radio and holding sham elections, among other unacceptable actions, according to the Tanzanian minister. Mr Membe said the rebel leader held undemocratic elections that were not monitored, had no ballot papers, boxes before declaring himself the winner, a victory that was declared null and void by AU. The AU, according to the Foreign Affairs minister, wanted to disarm the militias and create an environment where the people of the Comoros would be free to hold free and fair elections. Whether he escapes or not, the AU has reached a point of no return. We are on course we shall throw him out of power�we shall do it, he said adding, that if the AU abandoned the exercise now there would be bloodshed on the islands. Mr Membe expressed surprise at the change of heart on the issue, saying those opposing the intervention now accepted AU resolutions on the Comoros even before President Kikwete was elected chairman of the continental body. At the same time, Mr Membe denounced reports published in foreign media on South Africa;s move as propaganda that sought to undermine the AU's efforts to resolve conflicts on the continent. However, reports from South Africa said yesterday that Mr Mbeki had succeeded in halting an AU invasion over the weekend by reaching President Kikwete on the phone. This extraordinary plan was to be the AU's first military invasion of a member country. An AU force was assembling on the nearby island of Moheli apparently with French help ready to cross the narrow channel to Anjouan to help the federal government of Comoros get rid of Mr Bacar.