Security forces reportedly secured the city center and medina from rebel forces in Mutsamudu (capital of Anjouan island) on Saturday, October 20, following an amnesty deal signed a day prior. Officials indicate the operation concluded without incident and rebel forces have begun to leave the city. While the rebels had initially agreed to disarm by the early morning of October 20, the Comoros government has reportedly extended the deadline until Monday, October 22. Further protests and violence, especially in and around Mutsamudu, cannot be ruled out.
The political situation in Anjouan has remained volatile in recent months following the arrest of former President Abdallah Sambi (2005 to 2011) on corruption charges; Sambi is an Anjouan-native and a political rival of President Assoumani. Protests have centered around successful attempts by Assoumani to extend presidential term limits and limit the powers of opposition parties. Presidential term limits were extended from one to two following a July 2018 referendum, largely boycotted by the opposition. Assoumani is expected to call for new elections in 2019, paving the way to remain in power until 2029. Under the previous electoral system, which in addition to limiting presidential terms to one mandate, power rotated between the three main islands; as such, a political figure from Anjouan would have been next in line to hold the presidency in 2021.
Tensions between the army and demonstrators denouncing the regime of Comorian President Azali Assoumani, remained high on the island of Anjouan on Thursday, October 18. Gunfire was reported overnight October 17-18 and into the morning hours of Thursday in and around the medina area of Mutsamudu, despite a nightly curfew in effect since October 15. At least three people died since fighting began this week. Electricity and water outages were also reported in various neighborhoods.
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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