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52 - April 1984

THE ISLAND OF MAYOTTE : a question of sovereignty
The situation, now, in the island of Mayotte, poses a moral dilemma to the French government. Let us recall the facts : Mayotte is an island which is parto of the archipelago of Comoro, in the Indian Ocean. When Comoro, a French colony, became independent, the population of Mayotte refuses the new statute, probably, for fear of the predominance of the other islands of the archipelago and obtained, thanks to a poll in 1976, the right to remain in the bosom of the French republic. On the other hand, the Comoro republic claims Mayotte as belonging to it. The claim is supported by the African Unity Organization, non-aligned countries and United Nations General Assembly, which hampers the French Government's exterior policies, just because of the statute of an island with a population of 47.000, but, even in a case like this, moral political principles are involved.

It is easy to understand that French leaders are trying to find an honorable means to have Mayotte join the Comoro republic. But, it is not easy ; in 1976, the polls were 99.40 % for remaining inside the French community.

The population is to be consulted again, in 1984, about its choice, and the problem would be solved for the French government if the Mayotte population were willing to change opinion and vote in numbers for joining Comoro State. Actually it can be foreseen that this will not be the case. The three prominent parliamentarians are strongly opposed and vigorously denounce the plans they consider intolerable for unity with Comoro.

This explanation of the situation of Mayotte is an example of the difficulties that arise when the principles recognized by states are to be carried out, while, at the same time, what the populations want is to be respected. We have to remark that the ideas about the freedom of populations to self choice, with the addition of moral considerations, have been subject to great variations, with the passing of time. If we lived in the Middle Ages, it would seem natural that the King of France should sell Mayotte to Comoro to be paid back by th use of a military base (this has been discussed, now) without worrying about the population's opinion, as Mayotte and its inhabitants would be the King's property. If we were living in the times of Emperor Napoleon III, it would seem natural that, like what was done for Italy or Germany, help would be given to Comoro to become a state, Mayotte included. As we live now in an era of post-desalinization and self-decision, it seems logical that Comoro be independent, but as rational that the will of the people of Mayotte be respected.

The principles which have ruled States and peoples in their dealings with each other - if we do not consider dictatorships and conquests still numerous - have thus varied with time. Nowadays, the absolute sovereignty of States, not with landing the fact that the so-called absolute sovereignty is an illusion as to facts, is still in fashion. It could be imagined that Mayotte could become independent. Some Polynesian or West Indian islands have been given independence and their population was under 100.000. Where will this absurd partition into small, inimical states, what was called "balkanize", stop ?

Actually, the States of the World, from the smallest to the biggest, all are interdependent, particularly in the economic field. It would be rational for them to join to form large communities, following the principles of federalism : territorial, political unity, with a regard for minorities, etc.. Then Mayotte could join the Comoro State, having become a federation respecting the personality of each of the islands.

To this aim, States have to accept the transfer of some of their powers on behalf of organizations that will foster the future federations. If we want some order to reign between states, the populations to accept that order, the habit of absolute sovereignty has to be changed so that the new order of interdependence and close federations may come about.

AMIP - Mundialist News Agency

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