The Union of the Comoros, known as the Islamic Federal Republic of the Comoros until 2003, is ruled by Colonel Azali Assoumani. 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 seized power in a bloodless coup in April 1999, overthrowing Interim President Tadjiddine 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 which he has yet to fulfill.
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 February 17, 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 (OAU).
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 and presidential elections were held, 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.
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.
conventional long form: Union of the Comoros
conventional short form: Comoros
local long form: Union des Comores
local short form: Comores
Data code: CN
Government type: independent republic
Administrative divisions: three islands; Grande Comore (Ngazidja), Anjouan (Nzwani), and Moheli (Mwali)
note 1: there are also four municipalities named Domoni, Fomboni, Moroni, and Moutsamoudou
note 2: The native name of Grande Comore is Ngazidja, but is widely quoted as Njazidja, an erroneous form perpetuated by the CIA Factbook.
Independence: 6 July 1975 (from France)
National holiday: Independence Day, 6 July (1975)
Constitution: 20 October 1996
Legal system: French and Muslim law in a new consolidated code
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
chief of state: President AZALI Assoumani (since 6 May 1999)
head of government: Prime Minister Bianrifi TARMIDI (since 2 December 1999)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; election last held 6 and 16 March 1996 (next to be held NA); prime minister appointed by the president
note: President AZALI claimed a one-year term at the time of the coup; elections, in theory, should be held in the spring of 2000 but are likely to be dependent on the island of Anjouan remaining part of the federation
election results: results of the last presidential election before the coup were: Mohamed TAKI Abdulkarim elected president; percent of vote - 64.3%
Legislative branch: bicameral legislature consists of the Senate (15 seats: five from each island); members selected by regional councils for six-year terms) and a Federal Assembly or Assemblee Federale (43 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms); note - the Federal Assembly was dissolved following the coup of 30 April 1999
elections: Federal Assembly - last held 18 and 25 april 2004 (next to be held NA)
election results: Federal Assembly - percent of vote by party - NA;
Judicial branch: Supreme Court or Cour Supremes, 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 leaders: Forces pour l'Action Republicaine or FAR [Col. Abdourazak ABDULHAMID]; Forum pour la Redressement National or FRN (alliance of 12 parties); Front Democratique or FD [Moustoifa Said CHEIKH]; Front National pour la Justice or FNJ (Islamic party in opposition) [Ahmed RACHID]; Movement des Citoyens pour la Republique or MCR [Mahamoud MRADABI]; Mouvement Populaire Anjouanais or MPA (Anjouan separatist movement) [leader NA]; Mouvement pour la Democratie et le Progress or MDP-NGDC [Abbas DJOUSSOUF]; Movement pour le Socialisme et la Democratie or MSD (splinter group of FD) [Abdou SOEFOU]; Parti Comorien pour la Democratie et le Progress or PCDP [Ali MROUDJAE]; Rassemblement National pour le Development or RND (party of the government) [Omar TAMOU, Abdoulhamid AFFRAITANE]
International organization participation: ACCT, ACP, AfDB, AFM, African Union, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt (signatory), ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, InOC , Intelpol , IOC, ITU, LAS , NAM, OIC, OPCW (signatory), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WMO
Flag description: four equal horizontal bands of yellow (top), white, red, and blue with a green isosceles triangle based on the hoist; centered within the triangle is a white crescent with the convex side facing the hoist and four white, five-pointed stars placed vertically in a line between the points of the crescent; the horizontal bands and the four stars represent the four main islands of the archipelago - Mwali, Njazidja, Nzwani, and Mayotte (a territorial collectivity of France, but claimed by Comoros); the crescent, stars, and color green are traditional symbols of Islam
See also : Comoros
Last updated: 05-03-2005 17:50:55