Comoros. An overwhelming majority of Mayotte residents said in a referendum in March, yes, to further strengthen ties with France. Parliament had previously vainly demanded a halt to the referendum, and its vice president called the vote a declaration of war. According to countryaah, Mayotte is geographically part of the Comoros, but since 1975 belongs to France, which is not accepted by either the African Union (AU) or the Comoros, who claim the island.
On May 17, a majority of the Comoros population voted for a series of constitutional amendments, including increased centralization and extended mandate for the President of the Union. Union President Ahmed Abdallah Sambi first tried to conduct the referendum in March, but was then denied by a court following vigorous protests from the population. Sambi wanted to strengthen the central government and reduce the independence of the three main islands since the constitution was last reformed, in 2001. His argument was that increased centralization would lower the country’s high administrative costs. But the opposition believed that Zambi’s main reason was to stay in power and called for a boycott of votes.
Despite the opposition, 94 percent of the voters said yes to the constitutional proposal, but the turnout was only 52 percent. According to the new constitution, the term of office of the Union President was extended from four to five years and Sambi could remain until 2011 instead of 2010. In addition, the three main islands would no longer have their own presidents but only governors. Furthermore, Islam became a state religion and the president of the Union was given the right to dissolve parliament. It was unclear when the new constitution would come into force. The opposition argued that the extended term of office of the President could not be applied to Sambi during the current term, but that he should resign in 2010, as previously stated.
A passenger plane from Yemenia Airways crashed in the Indian Ocean off the Comoros on June 30. Only one of the 153 people on board survived. Most of the passengers were traveling from France to the Comoros via Yemen, where they had changed planes. The plane crashed just before landing in the Comorian capital of Moroni. The cause of the accident is unclear, but the 19-year-old plane had previously been sentenced by French aviation security authorities and even before the accident, Comoros had demonstrated against the poor safety of the aircraft between Yemen and the Comoros.
On 6 and 20 December elections were held for Parliament in two rounds. According to preliminary data, President Zambi’s “Baobab Movement” won a landslide victory and took home 19 of the 24 seats in the election.