On Saturday, October 26, the French government issued a travel advisory for Anjouan, urging citizens to postpone nonessential travel to the island following violence that occurred there October 15-21. Although the security situation has stabilized as of October 29 in the capital Mutsamudu, the situation remains tense. The army continues to patrol the island and a nightly curfew, established October 15, remains in effect. Further violence in the coming weeks cannot be ruled out.
Tensions between the army and demonstrators denouncing the regime of President Azali Assoumani broke out on October 15. Gunfire was reported October 17-18 in and around the medina area of Mutsamudu; at least three people were killed. Electricity and water outages were also reported in various neighborhoods. The security situation slowly returned to normal on October 21, the day after security forces secured the city center and the medina area from rebel forces following an amnesty deal signed October 19. Rebel forces have since left the city.
The political situation in Anjouan has been volatile in recent months following the arrest of former President Abdallah Sambi (2005-2011) 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 following a July 2018 referendum, largely boycotted by the opposition, and limit the powers of opposition parties. Assoumani is expected to call for new elections in 2019, paving the way to remain in power until 2029. Under the previous electoral system, power rotated between the three main islands; as such, a political figure from Anjouan would have been next in line to the presidency in 2021.
Individuals in Comoros are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid all protests, and limit nonessential movements in Anjouan as sporadic violence may take place over the coming days.
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