Comoros Country Report
A presidential elections is likely in early 2019 following a 'yes' vote in the constitutional referendum held in July 2018 on abolishing the rotating five-year presidency between Comoros's three islands, in favour of two consecutive five-year terms. President Azali Assoumani, whose mandate was due to end in 2021, has announced his intention to run again and is likely to be re-elected. In April 2018, he controversially suspended the Constitutional Court, and he has arrested or jailed his critics. Opposition to the changes has already caused violent protests across Anjouan, Mohéli, and Assoumani's home island, Grande Comore, increasing secessionist and coup risks. Comoros remains heavily dependent on outside assistance, even for the public utility companies, and public-sectorstrikes are likely to recur over salary issues.
Comoros has an under-skilled but militant workforce, although Saudi-financed road-building is improving an inadequate transport infrastructure. Persistent fuel and power shortages occur, while general strikes over energy and infrastructure failings and public-sector strikes over pay are likely to continue. Endemic bribery is exacerbated by competition for illicit payments between national and island administrators. Protests and increased coup risk following the July 2018 constitutional referendum are likely to create an unstable operating environment. In August 2018, ex-president Sambi was charged with embezzling public funds from a scheme selling passports, mostly intended for stateless Gulf-based individuals, charges that he denies.
Approximately 170 passports supplied by a Belgian company were cancelled in January 2018, with the government stating they had been improperly issued to foreigners, mainly Iranian-born. It is not clear whether there were any links to terrorist activities or rather the avoidance of sanctions and travel restrictions. Despite the islands' strongly Muslim identity, there is little sign or intention of the Islamic State gaining a foothold. In August 2018, eight "terrorist" suspects were arrested for allegedly planning a coup. Secessionist and coup risks have increased since the abolition of the islands' rotating presidency.
Civil war risks have persisted throughout most of the archipelago's history but the imposition of a constitution that rotated the presidency between the three islands had gradually proved its effectiveness. This is likely to be reversed following the outcome of the July 2018 constitutional referendum if, as is probable, power remains with Grande Comore for at least the next 10 years following a likely early presidential election in 2019. Secessionist and coup risks have increased as a result, with violent opposition protests likely.
Protest risks have risen due to political polarisation, and as the executive has struggled to check inflation, provide basic utilities, and pay civil servants. Protests are increasingly violent and likely to be sizeable following the July 2018 referendum. Opponents of President Assoumani have accused him of an "abuse of power", and the government is likely to crack down on opposition leaders and civil society activists to try to contain protests. Political unrest will likely increase due to the probability of an early presidential election in 2019, which will potentially enable Assoumani to remain in power for a further 10 years.
Vaccines Required to Enter the Country
No vaccinations are required to enter the country.
Vaccines Recommended for All Travelers
Routine vaccinations: Consult your doctor to ensure all routine vaccinations - such as for diphtheria, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis, influenza, measles, mumps, pertussis, rubella, varicella, etc. - are up to date (include booster shots if necessary).
Vaccines Recommended for Most Travelers
Hepatitis A: The vaccine is given in two doses, six months apart, and is nearly 100 percent effective. The WHO recommends the vaccine be integrated into national routine immunization schedules for children aged one year or older.
Malaria: There is currently no malaria vaccine. However, various antimalarial prophylactics are available by prescription and can reduce risk of infection by up to 90 percent. Different medications are prescribed depending on the risk level and the strains of the virus present in the destination. Antimalarial tablets need to be taken throughout the trip to be effective and may need to be taken for as long as four weeks following the trip.
Typhoid fever: The typhoid fever vaccine can be administered via injection (administered in one dose) or orally (four doses). The vaccine is only 50-80 percent effective, so travelers to areas with a risk of exposure to typhoid fever, a bacterial disease, should also take hygienic precautions (e.g. drink only bottled water, avoid undercooked foods, wash hands regularly, etc.). Children can be given the shot beginning at two years of age (six for the oral vaccine).
Vaccines Recommended for Some Travelers
Hepatitis B: The WHO recommends that all infants receive their first dose of vaccine as soon as possible after birth, preferably within 24 hours. The birth dose should be followed by two or three doses to complete the primary series. Routine booster doses are not routinely recommended for any age group.
Rabies: The rabies vaccination is typically only recommended for travel to remote areas and if the traveler will be at high risk of exposure (e.g. undertaking activities that will bring them into contact with dogs, cats, bats, or other mammals). The vaccination is administered in three doses over a three-to-four week period. Post exposure prophylaxis is also available and should be administered as soon as possible following contact with an animal suspected of being infected (e.g. bites and scratches).
Travelers to the country should be aware that tropical cyclones can strike between November and May. The islands are located in an active seismic and volcanic zone; Mount Karthala is an active volcano on Grande Comore that erupted most recently in 2007.
Foreign visitors should be aware that tourist infrastructure is limited, telecommunication systems are not very reliable, and power outages and water cuts are common.
European governments advise against flying with the domestic airline Comores Air Services due to poor safety standards. That being said, when traveling between islands, it is preferable to travel by air rather than by sea, as many boat and ferry services do not adhere to minimal safety standards.
The Comoros Islands enjoy a tropical maritime climate characterized by fairly constant daytime temperatures, around 26°C at sea level, and high annual rainfall (2679 mm). The average ocean temperature is 25°C. The island nation experiences two seasons, the hot and humid season (from November to April) and the dry season (May to October).
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