SA to protest military invasion of Anjouan island By Polycarp Machira THE CITIZEN South Africa yesterday reiterated its opposition to the invasion of Anjouan Island in the Comoros by the Tanzania-led Africa Union (AU) forces, saying it would lodge a formal protest at the next Heads of State Summit. The South African High Commissioner to Tanzania, Mr Sindiso Mfenyana, said his country was opposed to the use of military force as a means to restore democracy in African countries. Mr Mfenyana defended President Thabo Mbeki�s failed last-minute attempt to stop the military invasion. The AU-backed troops this week routed rebel Colonel Mohammed Bacar�s forces from Anjouan to restore President Ahamed Abdallah Sambi�s control over the island. President Mbeki opposed the military intervention, and reached out to the AU chairman, President Jakaya Kikwete, in and effort to avert the offensive. But Tanzania�s Foreign Affairs minister, Mr Bernard Membe, then said it was too late to halt the plan as it had the full blessings of the AU. Yesterday, Mr Mfenyana, told journalists in Dar es Salaam that President Mbeki had preferred dialogue as the best option. �President Mbeki clearly stated that it was not wise to adopt a military invasion that would throw the common man into unnecessary trouble. We all know that during such attacks it is the innocent that suffer most, the high commissioner said. However, Tanzania, which sent 650 of the 1,800 troops on the ground in the Comoros, insisted that the AU leaders, who included Mr Mbeki, had endorsed the military offensive. Mr Mfenyana, speaking during the annual press briefing by the South African High Commission in Dar es Salaam, said his country would ensure that the issue is discussed at the next AU meeting. He said ever since its inception as the Organisation of Africa Union (OAU), the African body was a tool that had been founded to promote the total liberation of the continent through dialogue as a way to foster democracy. I think the African body will have to state clearly whether such a move would be the right measure to a prolonged negotiation for peace. There is always a need to uphold dialogue for quite some time, said the high commissioner. He said the Kenyan election crisis was a good example on how dialogue could be used to bring warring parties to negotiations. Briefly speaking about Zimbabwe, Mr Mfenyana said the rest of the world was waiting to see the country go to the polls today. However, he said the elections might not meet international standards. The High Commissioner also said that the Palipehutu FNL rebels must participate in the joint verification mechanism to integrate them into the Burundi community. This comes at a time when the UN peace building commission expressed concern on Thursday over the withdrawal of the rebel group from the mechanism established to implement the 2006 Comprehensive Cease-fire Agreement. A South African minister of state was the chief facilitator on the refugee repatriation that began in 2006. In September that year, the agreement was signed between the Government and the last major rebel hold-out group, Forces Nationales de Lib�ration (Palipehutu-FNL). A new political directorate comprising representatives from the Government, Palipehutu-FNL, AU, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa and the European Union (EU), among others, has been established in the capital, Bujumbura. It is promoting dialogue on any obstacles to implementing the agreement. Palipehetu-FNL has since withdrawn from the framework for the implementation of the 2006 comprehensive cease-fire agreement.