Security forces clashed with armed locals in Mutsamudu (Anjouan) on Monday, October 15, after soldiers attempted to clear barricades erected along major roads and in the city center. Reports claim that gunfire was also heard in the area and lasted for roughly three hours; no casualties were immediately reported. Armed protesters reportedly barricaded entrances to the city and in the central market and stoned cars as part of a political demonstration against the central government. Further clashes between security forces and demonstrators are possible in Comoros in the near-term.
The political situation in Anjouan has remained fluid over previous months following the arrest of former president (2005 to 2011) and Anjouan-native Abdallah Sambi on corruption charges, a political rival of the sitting president Azil Assoumani. The protests centered around attempts by the sitting president to extend presidential term limits and limit the powers of opposition parties. Azil secured authority to extend term limits to two mandates in a June 2018 referendum, largely boycotted by the opposition, and is expected to call for new elections in 2019, paving the way to remain in power until 2029. Under the previous electoral system, which limited presidential terms to one mandate and rotated power between the three main islands, a political figure from Anjouan would have been next in line to hold the presidency in 2021.
Individuals in Comoros are advised to avoid all protests and demonstrations, monitor developments to the situation, and limit nonessential movements in Anjouan as sporadic violent demonstrations may take place over the coming days.
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