1997 Anjouan independence referendum

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An independence referendum was held on Anjouan, an island in the Comoros, on 26 October 1997.[1] Over 99% of voters voted in favour of independence. However, the vote was not recognised and the island returned to the control of the Comorian government in 2001.

Background[edit]

In July 1997 opposition parties were banned and Anjouan separatist leader Abdallah Ibrahim was arrested. His arrest led to rioting in Mutsamudu, the capital of Anjouan.[2] Following the riots, militants from the Anjouan People's Movement took over the island, and declared independence on 3 August 1997. Ibrahim was released from prison and named President. At the same time, the island of Mohéli also declared independence.[2]

On 3 October the Comorian army attempted to invade the island, but were repulsed by local troops.[3] A referendum was subsequently called by Ibrahim despite opposition from the Organisation for African Unity and the Arab League.[3]

Results[edit]

Choice Votes %
For 135,116 99.68
Against 439 0.32
Invalid/blank votes 3,444
Total 138,999 100
Registered voters/turnout 146,593 94.79
Source: Direct Democracy

Aftermath[edit]

Following the referendum, Ibrahim was appointed head of a provision government of island, now renamed Nzwani. In mid-November he agreed to attend peace talks with Comorian president Mohamed Taki Abdoulkarim.[2] After the talks fell through, Anjouan voters subsequently approved a draft constitution in a referendum in February 1998.[2]

Following another failed attempt to reach agreement in 1999,[4] agreement was reached between the Comorian government and the Anjouan separatists in 2001 to progress with a national referendum on a new federal constitution.[2] This was approved by 76% of voters nationally, and 95% of voters on Anjouan.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Anjouan (Comoros), 26 October 1997: Independent Direct Democracy (in German)
  2. ^ a b c d e Tom Lansford (2015) Political Handbook of the World 2015, CQ Press
  3. ^ a b COMORO ISLANDS: Anjouan Leader Plans Referendum On Secession IPS, 13 October 1997
  4. ^ Comoros profile BBC News
  5. ^ Elections in the Comoros African Elections Database