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Comoros Politics

State and politics

GOVERNMENT

After several years of deep division between the islands of the Federal Republic, the Union of the Comoros was formed by the adoption of a new constitution in a referendum in December 2001. According to this constitution, the three islands of Ngazidja (Grande Comore), Nzwani (Anjouan) and Mwali (Mohéli) enjoy far-reaching autonomy.

Government and Politics of Comoros

The Union is led by a president, who is head of state, commander-in-chief and the supreme leader of the country's foreign relations. The President and two Vice Presidents represent the three islands and together form the Council of the Union. They are elected for five years and the presidential post previously rotated between the three islands; In 2018, incumbent President Azali Assoumani passed a constitutional amendment that gives the Head of State the right to sit for two terms in a row and abolish the system of two vice presidents. Also see AbbreviationFinder for abbreviation of KM and its meanings of Comoros.

The president appoints government members and distributes their responsibilities. The ministerial posts must be evenly distributed between the islands. From 2001, each island also had its own president, government and parliament, but a revision of the constitution in 2009 again strengthened the central power at the islands' expense. The presidents were demoted to governors, the ministers became commissioners and the parliaments were overthrown to the council.

The legislative power is held by Parliament, called the Union Assembly, whose 33 members are elected for five years. Of these, nine of the three islands' local council and the remaining 24 are elected in general elections. All citizens who are 18 years of age have the right to vote. Political parties may operate freely as long as national sovereignty, democracy and territorial integrity are respected. In practice, however, most parties mainly represent the interests of the various islands. The only major party that explicitly supports the Union idea is the Convention pour le renouveau des Comores (CRC).

Policy

In 2002, in the first presidential election after the new constitution was approved, Azali Assoumani defeated Ngazidja, former commander-in-chief, who in 1999 took power in a bloody coup. However, he was only approved after the original electoral commission had dissolved and a new one was appointed.

The country's first peaceful change of power took place in 2006, when Ahmed Abdallah Sambi (born 1958) from Nzwani received 58 percent of the vote in the second round of the presidential election. When the constitutional amendments were approved in a 2009 referendum, the term of office of the President of the Union was extended by one year. Sambi, whose term of office expired in May 2010, was allowed to lead an interim government for an extra year, though with limited powers. After receiving 28 per cent of the votes in the first round at the end of 2010 and 61 per cent in the second, in May 2011, Zambi Vice President Ikililou Dhoinine from Mwali was able to take over as president.

After the 2004 parliamentary elections, the first to be implemented under the new constitution was the CRC in minority; largest party in parliament became Camp des Îles Autonomes (CdÎA). In the 2009 election, the coalition "Baoba Movement", which supported President Sambi, won 19 of 24 seats.

In the run-up to the parliamentary elections, which should have actually been held in April 2014, but which eventually delayed until January and February 2015, several new parties were formed. The election was a battle between the then President Dhoinine and his representative Sambi as well as their respective parties. After the second round of elections, it was clear that the Dhoinine Union for the Development of the Comores (UDC) was given eight seats, one more than the Juwa ('the sun') led by Zambi.

President since 2016 is Azali Assoumani, who this year was re-elected to the mission he held in 1999-2006. In 2018, Assoumani initiated a referendum on constitutional amendments that allows a president to sit for two terms in a row and gives the president the right to abolish the system of two vice presidents. Before the referendum was announced, Assoumani dissolved the country's constitutional court. The opposition accused him of carrying out a constitutional coup and called for a boycott of the referendum; it also sparked violent protests against the president's plans.

In the end, voter turnout was 62 percent, and 93 percent supported the proposal for constitutional amendments. In the months that followed, several opposition politicians and military were arrested. The presidential elections held in March 2019 were judged unfair by both the opposition and international election observers from the African Union (AU), among others. According to the official result, Assoumani received 61 percent of the vote already in the first round. The turnout was 54 percent.

The Comoros are still claiming the island of Mayotte, who at independence in 1975 preferred to remain part of France and whose residents in 2009, in a referendum, said yes to strengthened ties with this country. In 2011, the island of France became the 101st department.

Judiciary

The core of the legal system is codification based on both French and Islamic law. The highest court of the judiciary is the Supreme Court. The death penalty can be punished for some serious crimes.

Heads of State

Presidents

1975 Ahmed Abdallah
1976-78 Ali Soilih
1978-89 Ahmed Abdallah
1990-95 Said Mohamed Djohar
1996-98 Mohammed Taki Abdulkarim
1998-99 Interim regime under Tadjidine ben Said Massounde
1999-2006 Azali Assoumani
2006-11 Ahmed Abdallah Zambi
2011-16 Ikililou Dhoinine
2016- Azali Assoumani
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