Violent clashes and shooting erupted in Mutsamudu and surrounding areas on the island of Anjouan on Tuesday, October 16, between the army and demonstrators protesting the regime of Comorian President Azali Assoumani. New incidents of unrest have been reported around the medina and in central streets of Mutsamudu despite an active curfew that was imposed on Monday, October 15. Further violent clashes between security forces and demonstrators are possible 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 which was 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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