Local authorities imposed a curfew in Mutsamudu (capital of Anjouan island) and surrounding areas on Monday, October 15; it will be in effect between 20:00 and 06:00 (local time) until further notice. The measure was implemented following heavy clashes that broke out earlier in the day between protesters and security forces. The protesters had gathered to denounce the suspension of talks between the government and the opposition in the aftermath of the controversial July 20 constitutional referendum. Armed protesters reportedly barricaded entrances to the city and the central market and stoned cars. Reports claim that gunfire was heard for roughly three hours; no casualties were immediately reported. Further clashes between security forces and demonstrators remain possible in Comoros in the near-term.
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 the sitting President Azil 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 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.
Copyright and Disclaimer