The Indian Ocean Islands Games, a new source of discord between the Comoros, Mayotte and Paris

Mansour Kamardine, deputy of the Republicans of Mayotte, in Matignon, in Paris, April 19, 2018.

“It’s provocation in its purest form”, protested, Thursday September 14, the deputy for Mayotte (Les Républicains) Mansour Kamardine. Three days earlier, in Moroni, the Comorian Minister of Sports, Djaanfar Salim, declared that “the Comorian island of Mayotte” could be ociated with the organization of the future Indian Ocean Islands Games (JIOI) and host events during the next edition, in 2027. An important competition in the region, which brings together athletes from Mauritius every four years , Madagascar, Reunion, Mayotte and Comoros, Seychelles, Maldives. The last one just ended in Madagascar on September 3.

Each edition arouses tensions. The main reason: the charter of the Island Games prohibits athletes from Mayotte from parading with the French flag. In the event of a gold medal won by its athletes, it is the anthem of the Games which resonates instead of the Marseillaise. It is not uncommon for incidents to break out in the stands when Mahorese supporters brandish the blue-white-red flag.

The affair revives the conflict over Mayotte’s belonging to France. Since the country’s independence in 1975, Moroni has always claimed the fourth island in the archipelago, relying on around twenty non-binding UN resolutions.

“Historical choice trampled underfoot”

For MP Kamardine, the Comorian government is taking advantage of the attribution of the JIOI to its country, decided on August 31, to “trampling underfoot the historic choice, since 1841, of the Mahorais to be French”. The parliamentarian also accuses the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs of “let it happen” and of “duplicity” by having supported the candidacy of Mayotte for the organization of the JIOI of 2027 (which was not accepted), while “defending a joint organization with the Comoros”.

MP Estelle Youssouffa (Libertés, independents, overseas and territories) also criticizes Paris for having “weakly defended the candidacy of Mayotte”. “France, which chaired the Indian Ocean Commission in 2021, has never fought for athletes to be able to parade with their flag and with their anthem. »

Within the Indian Ocean Commission, France is represented by Réunion while Mayotte remains excluded. The mobilization of elected officials from 101e French department, oppositions and part of the majority had forced, in January, Minister Catherine Colonna to withdraw from the agenda of the National embly a bill aimed at updating the text without affecting French representation.

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