Political opposition parties held an anti-referendum protest in Moroni on Friday, June 22. During the demonstration, police arrested the leaders of three opposition parties outside of the Grand Mosque. Security forces also fired tear gas to disperse the crowds. Associated protests were also held in Mutsamudu, the capital of the island of Anjouan. Opposition parties will likely continue to hold demonstrations against the July 29 referendum in the coming weeks. Further clashes between security forces and protesters cannot be ruled out.
A constitutional referendum on presidential term limits will be held July 29. The referendum will decide whether to amend the constitution from the current single five-year term to two five-year terms. It will also do away with the current system where the position rotates every five years between the archipelago’s islands of Grande Comore, Anjouan, and Moheli. If the referendum passes, the next presidential election will be held in 2019 instead of 2021. This move is widely regarded as an attempt by current president Azali Assoumani to extend his term, which has angered his opponents.
Individuals in Comoros are advised to keep abreast of the sociopolitical climate and avoid all protests and political rallies as a precaution.
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