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PRESSURE MAY FORCE MERCENARY TROOPS TO LEAVE COMOROS

SHARE PRESSURE MAY FORCE MERCENARY TROOPS TO LEAVE COMOROS

French mercenary Bob Denard and his corps of European soldiers who now control the Coromo Islands are likely to leave within a month because of domestic and foreign pressure, a South African diplomat said Friday.

Marco Boni, South Africa's trade representative, noted that both South Africa and France - the largest donors of aid to the Indian Ocean nation - had suspended all assistance."I think Denard knows he has to go," Boni said in an interview. "The joint South African-French action should be an indication that it is time for him to leave."

Various diplomatic sources have alleged that Denard or his men were involved in the Nov. 26 assassination of President Ahmed Abdallah Abderrahmane. Denard, 60, has denied the allegation and insisted that he will not be forced from the islands.

A mass rally against Denard has been planned for Saturday at the main mosque in Moroni. On Thursday, 1,000 youths protested in the capital against Denard, and the mercenary-led presidential guard dispersed them with tear gas and clubs.