Addis Ababa, 16 October 2018: The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, deplores the suspension, since 2 October 2018, of the inter-Comorian dialogue, which began on 14 September 2018 under the facilitation of the African Union High Representative Ramtane Lamamra. He notes the deterioration of the political environment as a result of certain measures, particularly the lifting, on 3 October 2018, of the parliamentary immunity of three opposition members, some of whom were part of the opposition delegation to the inter-Comorian dialogue. He emphasizes, once again, the urgent need for confidence-building measures to facilitate the resolution of the crisis and to preserve the gains achieved in terms of reconciliation and stability.
Against this backdrop, the Chairperson of the Commission is following with concern the ongoing developments in the autonomous island of Anjouan. He urges all parties to exercise utmost restraint and to refrain from any action likely to heighten the current tension.
The Chairperson of the Commission stresses the need for the rapid resumption of the inter-Comorian dialogue and its conduct in a spirit of inclusivity, sincerity and good faith. He urges all Comorian political stakeholders to put the interest of their country above all other considerations, and reiterates the commitment of the African Union to accompany the Comoros to overcome the current challenges.
Another place, another time and someone who has in the past shown the will to use force to grab was dually elected in May 2016. This happen mere years after he brought himself to power by a bloodless coup in early May 1999. That man is the current President Col. Azali Assoumani. It was his second term he won in 2016, as it was his island turn to have the President. As the Moheli and Anjouan used to rotate. We shall all remember that th 2016 Election was filled with irregularities, as well as use of military as the preliminary results was announced, as there was reports of stuffed ballots boxes and therefore, the result that gave Assoumani a win. Might have been rigged in his favor. However, that didn’t matter and life moved on.
That is why I will first show, the key pieces of articles from the 2001 constitution, the ones that was in effect until July 2018. When the new amendments of Assoumani comes in effect and changes the paradigm of law for Presidential terms and rotation between the Islands in the Union.
The 2001 Constitution of Comoros stated this before the referendum in article 13:
“The presidency shall rotate among the islands. The President and the Vice Presidents shall be elected by direct universal suffrage under a system of majority voting in two rounds for a term of five years, subject to the rotation. A primary shall be held in the island concerned and only the three candidates which have received the highest numbers of votes cast may stand in the presidential election. In no case may the presidential primary be held on two successive occasions on the same island” (Constitution 2001, Article 13).
As President Assoumani have revised the Constitution in 2018, there was one article he might have broken, which is third section of Article 42, that states:
“No amendment procedure shall be initiated or continued where the integrity of the national territory, the inviolability of its internationally recognized borders or the autonomy of its islands is placed in jeopardy” (Constitution 2001, Article 42).
Therefore, the President from 2016 and the one ruling after a bloodless coup from 1999 to 2006. Have used his powers, to an extent that puts the autonomy of its islands is placed in jeopardy. When I say that, is because he has rewritten article 13, which was for not favoring ones island and ensuring representation at the highest office from each island at each turn. So, that all of the three under two decades has had their leader and the primary elections on their island. However, that will not be case now, as Assoumani have ensured himself two more terms and possibly a total of 15 years. Meaning that his rule could be as far as 2031 (2021 & 2026 elections).
We should not be shocked this, because when someone has used force and military to gain power like the colonel did in the past. He will misuse power again to grab it and control it. That should not shock anyone. This years 30th July 2018 referendum was clearly a fixed election to gain all control, as there was also a clause to scrap the representation of one Vice-President from each island. As the President doesn’t wants to have check-and-balances, but all control at his finger-tips. That is why he is ordering arrests of dissidents like ex-VP Jaffar Ahmed Said Hassani and ex-President Ahmed Abdallah Sambi. That is to really settle the score and ensure himself more power. Because the President knows he plays with a striking force against those other island and their autonomy in the Union with his referendum.
That is shown by this recent actions, as he undermines the Union and secures himself power, as a result, the Comore Grande gets to keep the Presidency and also the power, while the two other islands are stalwarts and awaiting their turn. As there might not be none, as the President might have a new referendum, when it is close to the end of his third term. Because he did it now in the midst of his second term and “elected” one. But, by then he might have gotten an even more stronger grip and centralized, even more power, as he has had the time to do so, and ensured all his dissidents are either in prison or in exile.
We have all seen this story before, but its now happening in the Union of Comoros. Peace.