Politics of the Comoros

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This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
the Comoros

Politics of the Union of the Comoros takes place in a framework of a federal presidential republic, whereby the President of the Comoros is both head of state and head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Federal legislative power is vested in both the government and parliament.

As of 2008, Comoros and Mauritania are considered by US-based organization Freedom House as the only real “electoral democracies” of the Arab World.[1]

Political background[edit]

The Union of the Comoros, known as the Islamic Federal Republic of the Comoros until 2003, is ruled by Ahmed Abdallah Sambi. The political situation in Comoros has been extremely fluid since the country's independence in 1975, subject to the volatility of coups and political insurrection. Colonel Azali Assoumani seized power in a bloodless coup in April 1999, overthrowing Interim President Tadjidine Ben Said Massounde, who himself had held the office since the death of democratically elected President Mohamed Taki Abdoulkarim in November, 1998.

In May 1999, Azali decreed a constitution that gave him both executive and legislative powers. Bowing somewhat to international criticism, Azali appointed a civilian Prime Minister, Bainrifi Tarmidi, in December 1999; however, Azali retained the mantle of Head of State and army Commander. In December 2000, Azali named a new civilian Prime Minister, Hamada Madi, and formed a new civilian Cabinet. When Azali took power he also pledged to step down in April 2000 and relinquish control to a democratically elected president—a pledge with mixed results.

In a separate nod to pressure to restore civilian rule, the government organized several committees to compose a new constitution, including the August 2000 National Congress and November 2000 Tripartite Commission. The opposition parties initially refused to participate in the Tripartite Commission, but on 17 February, representatives of the government, the Anjouan separatists, the political opposition, and civil society organizations signed a "Framework Accord for Reconciliation in Comoros," brokered by the Organization for African Unity

The accord called for the creation of a new Tripartite Commission for National Reconciliation to develop a "New Comorian Entity" with a new constitution. The new federal Constitution came into effect in 2002; it included elements of consociationalism, including a presidency that rotates every four years among the islands and extensive autonomy for each island. Presidential elections were held in 2002, at which Azali Assoumani was elected President. In April 2004 legislative elections were held, completing the implementation of the new constitution.

The new Union of the Comoros consists of three islands, Grande Comore, Anjouan and Mohéli. Each island has a president, who shares the presidency of the Union on a rotating basis. The president and his vice-presidents are elected for a term of four years. The constitution states that, "the islands enjoy financial autonomy, freely draw up and manage their budgets".

President Assoumani Azali of Grande Comore is the first Union president. President Mohamed Bacar of Anjouan formed his 13-member government at the end of April, 2003.

On 15 May 2006, Ahmed Abdallah Sambi, a cleric and successful businessman educated in Iran, Saudi Arabia and Sudan, was declared the winner of elections for President of the Republic. He is considered a moderate Islamist and is called Ayatollah by his supporters. He beat out retired French air force officer Mohamed Djaanfari and long-time politician Ibrahim Halidi, whose candidacy was backed by Azali Assoumani, the outgoing president.[2]

A referendum took place on May 16, 2009 to decide whether to cut down the government's unwieldy political bureaucracy. 52.7% of those eligible voted, and 93.8% of votes were cast in approval of the referendum. The referendum would cause each island's president to become a governor and the ministers to become councilors.[3]

Autonomous islands[edit]

The constitution gives Grande Comore, Anjouan and Mohéli the right to govern most of their own affairs with their own presidents, except the activities assigned to the Union of the Comoros like Foreign Policy, Defense, Nationality, Banking and others. Comoros considers Mayotte, an overseas collectivity of France, to be part of its territory, with an autonomous status [4]

Executive branch[edit]

Main office holders
Office Name Party Since
President Ikililou Dhoinine 26 May 2011

The federal presidency is rotated between the islands' presidents. The Union of Comoros abolished the position of Prime Minister.

Legislative branch[edit]

The Assembly of the Union has 33 seats, 18 elected in single seat constituencies and 15 representatives of the regional assemblies.

Judicial branch[edit]

The Supreme Court or Cour Supreme, has two members appointed by the president, two members elected by the Federal Assembly, one by the Council of each island, and former presidents of the republic.

Political parties and elections[edit]

For other political parties see List of political parties in the Comoros. An overview on elections and election results is included in Elections in Comoros.

Elections were held in 2004 where federal president Azali suffered a major setback by only winning 6 of the 18 seats in the National assembly, the other going to the supporters of the presidents of the semi-autonomous islands.

e • d Summary of the 16 April and 14 May 2006 Comoros presidential election results
Candidates - Parties Votes in the
Anjouan Primary
% Votes in the Union %
Ahmed Abdallah Mohamed Sambi 14,568 23.70 99,112 58.02
Ibrahim Halidi - Movement for the Comoros (Mouvement pour les Comores)* 6,376 10.37 48,378 28.32
Mohamed Djaanfari 8,052 13.10 23,322 13.65
Caabi El-Yachroutu Mohamed 5,877 9.56 - -
Nourdine Midiladji 5,221 8.49 - -
Nassuf Ahmed Abdallah 3,276 5.33 - -
Seven others 18,097 29.44 - -
Total (Turnout 54.9% / 57.3%) 61,467 170,812
Source: African Elections Database
* Halidi was also supported by:
e • d Summary of the 18 and 25 April 2004 Assembly of the Union of the Comoros election results
Parties Votes % Seats
Camp of the Autonomous Islands (Camp des Îles Autonomes) . 12
Convention for the Renewal of the Comoros (Convention pour le Renouveau des Comores, CRC, Azali Assoumani) . 6
Representatives of the regional assemblies . 15
Total   33
Source: Voice of America

International organization participation[edit]

The Comoros are member of the ACCT, ACP, AfDB, AMF, African Union, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt (signatory), ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, InOC, Interpol, IOC, ITU, LAS, NAM, OIC, OPCW (signatory), United Nations, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WMO.

References[edit]

External links[edit]