|Union of the Comoros|
|Population||780,971 (July 2015 est.)|
|Languages||French (official), Arabic (official), Shikomoro (official), Comorian|
|Form of government||Republic|
|GDP (2014)||$717 million; per capita (2014): $1.500|
The Union of the Comoros is an archipelago of three islands east of Mozambique and north of Madagascar. An autonomous colony of France since 1961, the people of Comoros voted for independence in 1974 and gained independence the following year. (A fourth island, Mayotte, voted to remain under French administration.) A series of coups over the next two decades contributed to ongoing political instability.
Conflict erupted in 1997 when the islands of Anjouan and Moheli declared independence from the Comoros. After four years of coups and infighting, citizens voted in 2001 to reconvene as a union of semi-autonomous states. Elections followed, and the union was stable until 2007, with the island of Anjouan broke away. Comoran and African Union troops landed on Anjouan in 2008 and deposed its secession leader, returning the island to the union.
Following peaceful elections in 2010, current President Ikililou Dhoinine was inaugurated. Legislative elections in 2015 in Comoros were declared free and transparent by international observers.
|President||H.E. Azali Assoumani|
|Vice-President, Minister of Production, Environment, Energy, Industry and Crafts||H.E. Fouad Mohadji|
|Vice-President, Minister of Finance, Economy, Budget, Investment & External Trade Charged With Privatization||H.E. Mr Mohamed Ali SOILIHI|
|Vice-President, Minister of Territorial Planning, Urbanism and the Habitat||H.E. Nourdine BOURHANE|
|g7+ Focal Point||Mr. Mbapandza MOHAMED, Aid Coordination, Ministry of Planning|
New Deal Implementation
The president is the head of state. The president appoints three vice presidents, one from each island. The presidency rotates among the three islands. Presidents are elected in five-year terms; the last presidential election was in 2011, and the next is scheduled for 2016. The Council of Ministers is also appointed by the president.
The unicameral parliament, called the Assembly of the Union, consists of 33 members, 24 directly elected members and 9 members indirectly elected by island assemblies. Members serve five-year terms. The next parliamentary election is scheduled for 2020.
Under the Comoros constitution, each of the three islands is semi-autonomous and has its own directly elected government. A 2009 constitutional referendum and subsequent amendment, however, granted more unifying power to the central government; these reforms led to reduced tensions and improved stability. Today, each island has an elected governor and island assembly. The island of Grande Comore has 20 members in its assembly; the island of Anjouan has a 25-member assembly, and the island of Mohéli has a 10-member assembly
Political instability and geographic isolation has been a challenge to provision of social services. Limited natural resources, lack of educational opportunities and high unemployment contribute to high poverty rates. Population density and birth rates are also high; more than half of the population is under the age of 20. Due to economic fluctuations, households are particularly vulnerable to short-term poverty. Access to clean water and sanitation is limited, but infrastructural improvements are ongoing.
Mortality rates for children under five are improving, in part due to increased reach and consistency of vaccination campaigns across Comoros’ three islands. Enrollment in technical and vocational education programs is rising, though many secondary school graduates depart Comoros for foreign universities. The 2009-2014 Comoros Poverty Reduction and Growth Strategy Paper focused on (1) Consolidating peace and strengthening good governance; (2) Creating wealth and generating substantial revenues within the framework of pro-poor growth; and (3) Broadening access to basic social services. The plan highlighted cross-disciplinary issues of human rights, gender, statistical capacity, ICTs, and trade policy.
Comoros’ primary economic activity is agriculture, including fishing, hunting, and forestry. Export income is generated primarily by three crops: vanilla, cloves, and ylang-ylang. Remittances from the Comoran diaspora account for about 25 percent of Comoros’ GDP. While limited infrastructure and lack of skilled labor are barriers to investment, the government has undertaken structural reforms to improve the fiscal environment, and Comoros recently joined World Bank Group’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) as a means to provide political risk insurance to foreign investors.
Foreign investment is concentrated in the agribusiness, construction and tourism industries; the government and development partners are also seeking donor and private investment in the energy and telecom sectors. Comoros awarded its first offshore oil exploration and development license in 2012, and has since ratified a formal Petroleum Code governing all oil and gas investment.