afrol News, 13 March - The results of Sunday's referendum on the Comoran islands of Anjouan and Moheli show there is a support for the establishment of autonomy on the islands. Meanwhile, the presidential candidates on Gran Comore agreed to postpone elections until Sunday.
Comoros is going through a process of several referendums and elections to establish the Comoran Union, a porcess that also was agreed upon in a referendum. The Union is to replace the Federal Islamic Republic of the Comoros and the years of military rule on Gran Comore and secessionism on the island of Anjouan.
On Sunday, there were simultaneous referendums over three new autonomous island's constitutions, to be held on all the islands. The referendum on Gran Comore was however postponed because of the troubles organising the island's presidential elections. All the candidates, except ex-military ruler Colonel Azali Assoumani, said they would boicott the elections. The Gran Comore elections were therefore first postponed until today. Now, all the nine candidates to the Presidency have agreed to organise the elections, and therefore also the Gran Comore constitution referendum on Sunday.
On Anjouan and Moheli, meanwhile, the two local constitutions, defining the islands' autonomy, were approved by the islanders' majority in well organised referendums. The islands will later elect their presidents.
The presidential elections on Gran Comore were however important to have accomplished early, as the island's President is set to become the first President of the Comoran Union. The presidency is to rotate between the three islands, according to the new federal constitution. The mandate of the Union's new government is to be limited to affairs of religious and nationality, currency, foreign and defence policy.
The referendums and Gran Comoro elections are the first in a row to end the long political crisis of the Comoran archipelago, where subsequent military coups and mismanagement from Gran Comore had led Anjouan and Moheli to declare their independence in 1997. Extensive peace talks have led to a beginning national reconciliation and a thorough constitutional reform, already approved in a referendum, ensures democracy and autonomy for all the islands.
The last poll round in this constitutional reform process is foreseen for 31 March and 7 April, when voters on the three islands are to elect their local presidents.
A group of 40 military election observers from the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) have arrived on Gran Comore on Saturday, and is expected to be enhanced. The group as also to assist the government in the case of unrest during and after the election.
Sources: Based on press reports and afrol archives