Comoros. In July, a controversial referendum was held regarding a proposal for a new constitution. The initiator for this was the incumbent President Azali Assoumani, who in May 2016 took up his third term in total. The new constitution abolishes the system where the presidential post rotates between the three largest islands in the country, Ngazidja (Grande Comore), Mwali (Mohéli) and Nzwani (Anjouan). Instead of being forced to resign after five years, the president should now be able to be re-elected once. The opposition saw the proposal as a way for Assoumani, who represents Ngazidja, to remain in power even after 2021, accusing the president of having in effect carried out a constitutional coup. This since he first allowed the country’s constitutional court to dissolve in April and then announced plans for constitutional changes.
In May, Ahmed Abdallah Sambi, President 2006-11, was placed under house arrest and in June one of the Vice Presidents, Ahmed Said Jaffar, was dismissed from all his ministerial posts except one after criticizing Assoumani. However, the Constitution did not allow the President to dismiss any of the Vice Presidents. The same month, violent protests erupted against Assoumani and his plans.
According to Countryaah.com, Moroni is the capital city of Comoros, a country located in Eastern Africa. The referendum was held in July. The opposition called for a boycott and turnout in the end was 62 percent. Of those who voted, 93 percent supported the proposal for a new constitution, which also gives the president the right to abolish the system of vice presidents to represent the islands that the incumbent president does not come from. In the months that followed, Assoumani’s regime cracked down on the opposition. Among other things, Sambi was prosecuted for having, during his time as president, shattered revenue from the sale of Comorian passports to foreigners. The secretary general of the opposition party Juwa, to which Sambi also belongs, was arrested on charges of conspiracy and attempted murder.
In September, an international arrest warrant was issued for the then dismissed Vice President Ahmed Said Jaffar. He must have left the country and gone to Tanzania. Jaffar was indicted in his absence for conspiring against the state. Similar allegations were made against Deputy Commander-in-Chief, Colonel Ibrahim Salim, who was arrested the same month. The same fate affected several other politicians and militants who opposed President Assoumani’s constitutional reforms. Several of those arrested were sentenced in December to many years in prison.
In October, the situation escalated and gunfire between opposition and government forces erupted in Mutsamudu, the capital of Nzwani. Water and electricity were switched off in the city center and after a few days the army had regained control of the city.