Comoros President Calls Election Amid Island Nation Violence

(Bloomberg) -- Comoros President Azali Assoumani called elections for next year as violence erupted on one of its main islands following a controversial referendum.

The Indian Ocean archipelago has been buffeted by political instability since Assoumani won a vote in July that extended presidential term limits and abolished a system of rotating power between the three main islands. The opposition says the plebiscite was illegal, because Assoumani suspended the Constitutional Court before the vote was held, and has urged the African Union to intervene.

Elections that were due to be held by July will take place in the first quarter of 2019, Assoumani said in a speech at an Organisation internationale de la Francophonie summit in Armenia over the weekend.

“I appeal to the support of the OIF, its member states as well as partner institutions so that together, we ensure that this process is a successful one,” he said.

Violence erupted on the autonomous island of Anjouan earlier on Monday, with gunshots ringing out in the capital, Mutsamudu, from before dawn, Agence France-Presse reported. It didn’t say what sparked the violence. A curfew has been put in place in response, Mohamed Daoudou, minister of the interior, said in a video broadcast on Facebook.

Daoudou accused Anjouan governor Salami Abdou of stoking an “operation of destabilization” on the island. Salami didn’t immediately respond to calls and messages to his mobile phone seeking comments.

Comoros, with about 800,000 people and a $617 million economy, has had more than 20 coups or attempts at seizing power since it gained independence from France in 1975.

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