Comoros President Offers Immunity for Weapons After Violence

(Bloomberg) -- Comoros President Azali Assoumani offered immunity to residents who hand in their weapons on the restive island of Anjouan, where violence that erupted earlier this week left three people dead.

Political tensions have escalated in the Indian Ocean archipelago since the 59-year-old leader won a referendum in July that extended presidential term limits and abolished a system of rotating power between Comoros’ three main islands. Clashes broke out in Anjouan’s capital, Mutsamudu, on Oct. 15 between police and protesters who oppose Assoumani’s plan to seek another term in elections next year.

The federal government signed an accord with Anjouan authorities on Friday agreeing to offer immunity from prosecution to anyone who hands in their weapon by 6 p.m., according to a decree published in the capital, Moroni.

“These people will not be prosecuted and will be able to travel freely to any destination they choose,” the decree said.

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

Opposition leader Mohamed Ali Soilihi blamed the increasing tensions in the country in recent months on Assoumani. His administration has introduced measures that have resulted in “oppression, privation of individual and collective freedom rights and demolition of state institutions,” Soilihi told reporters.

Tensions on Anjouan are easing and are “about to be brought back under control,” Interior Minister Mohamed Daoudou told reporters on Thursday. “The armed civilians who were fighting the military are beginning to surrender.”

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