A stronger flow of development aid from France to the Comoros is anticipated as the coup-prone Indian Ocean island settles down after years of political instability. President Azali Assoumani arrived in Paris on Monday on the first official visit by a Comoran leader since the country's independence in 1975. His tour is expected to mend relations between the island nation and the former colonial power, which cooled in 1999, the year Assoumani came to power in one of the islands' numerous coups. Since then the archipelago has held presidential and legislative elections, leading to the establishment of a federal government of the Union of the Comoros in 2004. "The political situation has improved considerably, and now it is time for economic recovery. France is willing to help the Comoros become integrated into international activities because the political climate is good," a senior French diplomat in the Comoran capital, Moroni, told IRIN. French aid to the Comoros plunged from US $19.5 million to around $5.2 million per year after Assoumani took power. "The lack of aid has meant that many sectors have suffered. Public health services are especially in need of much assistance, and government is intending to use any additional aid to improve this sector," said Bacar Salim, the Comoran charge d'affaires in South Africa. Salim noted that Azali's visit was part of a broader government campaign to encourage international donors and investors to return to the island country. "Access to credit from the International Monetary Fund and other organisations has been very limited and, now that our constitutional problems are over, we are looking to hold a donors' conference towards the end of the year," he explained. France has said that it was still unclear by how much aid would be increased, adding that its contribution would complement the existing efforts of NGOs and other development agencies.
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions
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