Comoros. The conflict between the Union government and
the disputed president of the island of Nzwani (Anjouan),
Mohamed Bacar, also characterized the first half of 2008.
Bacar had seized power in Nzwani through a coup in 2001 and
the following year elected president of the island. The
crisis began in June 2007 when Bacar refused to resign,
despite the expiry of his term of office, and then conducted
elections in Nzwani against the will of the Union
Government. The election, which Bacar claimed to have won,
was annulled by the Comorian Constitutional Court.
At the end of February, an international delegation
failed to mediate and try to get Bacar to relinquish power.
Then the Union government began preparations for a military
invasion of Nzwani to evict him and take control of the
island. The invasion, called "Operation Democracy", was
conducted on the morning of March 25. Nzwani was taken by
over a thousand men; Comorian soldiers with support from
troops from other countries of the African Union (AU),
mainly Sudan and Tanzania.
Countryaah reports, the Union government appointed one of its vice
presidents, Ikililou Dhoinine, to be the temporary leader of
Nzwani until a transitional government could be installed.
Already on April 2, Lalizaman Abdou Cheik was sworn in as
interim president and appointed a new government.
Bacar fled to the French-controlled island of Mayotte,
from where France moved him to the French possession of
Réunion. The Comorian Justice Department requested that
France extradite Bacar, but there is no extradition
agreement between the countries. The French authorities
arrested Bacar, but decided not to hand him over to the
Comoros because of the risk of being persecuted. However,
France did not grant Bacar asylum, which some of his
employees received. In June, Bacar was sentenced to three
months' imprisonment for illegally importing weapons into
Reunion. Bacar was expelled in July from Reunion to Benin in
Africa, to which the Comoros Union Government expressed
On June 15, the first round of the presidential election
was held at Anjouan. Five candidates participated, but none
of them received the necessary share of votes, which is why
a second round of elections was conducted on June 29. Then
Moussa Toybou, who was minister in the 1990s, won 52 percent
of the vote.
In July, President Ahmed Abdallah Sambi, in accordance
with the constitution, appointed a new government with two
vice presidents. Of the other 13 ministers, five were new
appointments. The rest continued on their old posts or were
given new responsibilities.
A UN representative in the Comoros reported in August
that lack of food and gasoline and subsequent price
increases had begun to lead to protests and social unrest in
the country. The hospitals were paralyzed when almost all
the nursing staff went on strike, as did the teachers. Many
comrades demanded the departure of President Zambi.
In November, the Comorian parliament demanded a stop for
Mayotte's referendum on the island's relationship with
France, which was planned for spring 2009. Mayotte is
geographically part of the Comoros archipelago but since
1975 belongs to France, which is not accepted by either the
Comoros or the AU.