Comoros has endured more than 20 coups or attempted coups since gaining independence from France in 1975. In 1997, the islands of Anjouan and Moheli declared independence from Comoros. In 1999, military chief Col. AZALI seized power in a bloodless coup, and helped negotiate the 2000 Fomboni Accords power-sharing agreement in which the federal presidency rotates among the three islands, and each island maintains its own local government. AZALI won the 2002 presidential election, and each island in the archipelago elected its own president. AZALI stepped down in 2006 and President SAMBI was elected to office. In 2007, Mohamed BACAR effected Anjouan's de-facto secession from the Union, refusing to step down in favor of fresh Anjouanais elections when Comoros' other islands held legitimate elections in July. The African Union (AU) initially attempted to resolve the political crisis by applying sanctions and a naval blockade on Anjouan, but in March 2008, AU and Comoran soldiers seized the island. The move was generally welcomed by the island's inhabitants.
as defined by the 2001 constitution, the presidency rotates every four years among the elected presidents from the three main islands in the Union; election last held on 14 May 2006 (next to be held on 7 November 2010)
Ahmed Abdallah SAMBI elected president; percent of vote - Ahmed Abdallah SAMBI 58.0%, Ibrahim HALIDI 28.3%, Mohamed DJAANFAMI 13.7%
unicameral Assembly of the Union (33 seats; 15 deputies are selected by the individual islands' local assemblies and 18 by universal suffrage to serve for five years);
last held on 6 and 20 December 2009 (next to be held in 2014)
percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - pro-union coalition 19, autonomous coalition 4, independents 1; note - 9 additional seats are filled by deputies from local island assemblies
Supreme Court or Cour Supremes (two members appointed by the president, two members elected by the Federal Assembly, one elected by the Council of each island, and others are former presidents of the republic)
Camp of the Autonomous Islands or CdIA (a coalition of parties organized by the islands' presidents in opposition to the Union President); Convention for the Renewal of the Comoros or CRC [AZALI Assowmani]; Front National pour la Justice or FNJ [Ahmed RACHID] (Islamic party in opposition); Mouvement pour la Democratie et le Progress or MDP-NGDC [Abbas DJOUSSOUF]; Parti Comorien pour la Democratie et le Progress or PCDP [Ali MROUDJAE]; Rassemblement National pour le Development or RND [Omar TAMOU, Abdoulhamid AFFRAITANE]
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, N'gazidja, Nzwani, and Mahore (Mayotte - territorial collectivity of France, but claimed by Comoros)
note:the crescent, stars, and color green are traditional symbols of Islam
One of the world's poorest countries, Comoros is made up of three islands that have inadequate transportation links, a young and rapidly increasing population, and few natural resources. The low educational level of the labor force contributes to a subsistence level of economic activity, high unemployment, and a heavy dependence on foreign grants and technical assistance. Agriculture, including fishing, hunting, and forestry, contributes 40% to GDP, employs 80% of the labor force, and provides most of the exports. Export income is heavily reliant on the three main crops of vanilla, cloves, and ylang-ylang and Comoros' export earnings are easily disrupted by disasters such as fires. The country is not self-sufficient in food production; rice, the main staple, accounts for the bulk of imports. The government - which is hampered by internal political disputes - lacks a comprehensive strategy to attract foreign investment and is struggling to upgrade education and technical training, privatize commercial and industrial enterprises, improve health services, diversify exports, promote tourism, and reduce the high population growth rate. Political problems have inhibited growth, which has averaged only about 1% in 2006-09. Remittances from 150,000 Comorans abroad help supplement GDP. In September 2009 the IMF approved a three-year $21 million loan for Comoros.
national state-owned TV station and a TV station run by Anjouan regional government; national state-owned radio; regional governments on the islands of Grande Comore and Anjouan each operate a radio station; a few independent and small community radio stations operate on the islands of Grande Comore and Moheli, and these two islands have access to Mayotte Radio and French TV (2007)
claims French-administered Mayotte and challenges France's and Madagascar's claims to Banc du Geyser, a drying reef in the Mozambique Channel; in May 2008, African Union forces are called in to assist the Comoros military recapture Anjouan Island from rebels who seized it in 2001