Comoros announces first coronavirus case

BBC Monitoring

The world through its media

Galawa Beach in Comoros
Getty Images
The Indian Ocean archipelago is known for its white sand beaches

One of the few African countries without any reports of coronavirus has now confirmed its first case.

Comoros' President Azali Assoumani said the patient is a man who came in contact with a French-Comorian national who'd recently travelled to France before being hospitalised on 23 April.

His condition is improving and the authorities are tracing those who came into contact with him, President Assoumani said.

Lesotho is the only remaining African country that hasn't reported any cases.

There have been reports of people dying from "respiratory distress" in Comoros, but the president last week said no case had been registered in the country's three islands.

Tear gas fired at mosques in Comoros

Will Ross

Africa editor, BBC World Service

A mosque on the island of Anjouan, Comoros - archive shut
Mosques have been shut to prevent the spread of the virus

Security forces in Comoros have used tear gas to disperse people who had congregated in mosques in violation of the country's coronavirus lockdown regulations.

This happened on the island of Anjouan late on Saturday, and has been condemned by opposition politicians.

During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex from sunrise to sunset and usually gather at dusk to break their fast and pray.

President Azali Assoumani has imposed a nightly curfew even though the Indian Ocean archipelago is one of only two nations in Africa that is yet to record a single case of the virus.

The other country is Lesotho.

Gunfire heard after arrest of Comoros opposition leader

There are reports of gunfire near the main military base in the Comoros Islands, following the arrest of an opposition leader who was defeated in Sunday's presidential election.

Retired Colonel Soilihi Mohamed came fourth in the poll.

But he and other opposition leaders have refused to accept the victory of President Azali Assoumani, saying the vote was rigged.

A fact card showing the following information about Comoros: Population is 813,000; Area is 1,862 sq km (719 sq miles); Major languages are Arabic, French, Comoran; Life expectancy is 62 years for men and 65 years for women; Currency is Comoran franc.

Comoros president steps down ahead of election

Sammy Maina

BBC Monitoring

Azali Assoumani

Azali Assoumani has stepped down as president of Comoros to seek re-election in upcoming elections scheduled for March and April 2019.

In an interview with privately-owned news agency HZK-Presse, Mr Assoumani announced he was picking Energy Minister Moustadroine Abdou to act as president in his absence.

"I have chosen to have Moustadroine Abdou take over in my absence... [and] I know he has what it takes to maintain order among our ranks and is able to work with the others," Mr Assoumani said.

According to the archipelago's constitution, a president or governor seeking re-election must step down "as soon as" the Supreme Court publishes the definitive list of candidates to run in the coming election.

In July 2018, Mr Assoumani forced a referendum two years after his election that reversed a rotational presidency pact between Comoros' three islands, resulting in early elections being called for 2019.

If he wins, he hopes to extend his stay in power beyond 2021 when his term of office is supposed to end.

AU calls for peace talks in Comoros

Will Ross

Africa editor, BBC World Service

President Azali Assoumani
President Azali Assoumani ruled Comoros in 1999 to 2002 and again from 2002 to 2006.His third stint began in 2016

The African Union has called for an urgent resumption of peace talks in Comoros where a political crisis has turned violent.

At least two people are reported to have been killed during clashes between security forces and armed opposition protesters on the island of Anjouan.

The Chair of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, called on politicians to put the interest of the country above all other considerations.

The crisis began with July's constitutional referendum which ended the rotation of the presidency between the three main islands of the Comoros.

The opposition boycotted the vote which they saw as an illegal power grab by President Azali Assoumani - who can now run for office again.

Mr Assoumani ruled Comoros in 1999 to 2002 and again from 2002 to 2006.His third stint began in May 2016

Read more: Comoros country profile

Comoros ex-president 'taken into custody'

BBC Monitoring

The world through its media

Ahmed Abdallah Mohamed Sambi in 2011
The former president has been under house arrest since May

Ahmed Abdallah Sambi, the former president of Comoros, has been taken into custody amid an investigation into an economic citizenship programme introduced by his government, his family says.

He has been under house arrest since May and denied access to phones and computers.

But an investigating judge has now ordered he be formerly detained.

Mr Sambi denies the accusations levelled at him linked to money that has allegedly gone missing from a scheme to sell passports to fund development.

Observers say his arrest came amid a crackdown on opponents of constitutional reforms on the Indian Ocean archipelago.

Last month, the opposition called for a boycott of a referendum on changing the constitution to stop the rotation of the presidency between the islands every five years.

The successful “yes” vote means current President Azali Assoumani can seek another five-year term.

Several arrested after 'failed coup attempt' in Comoros

BBC Monitoring

The world through its media

Comoros' President Azali Assoumani (C) talks to media after casting his ballot during a constitutional referendum on July 30, 2018 at Mitsoudje polling station, outside Moroni capital of the Comoros archipelago off Africa's east coast. - Voters in the Comoros went to the polls on July 30 in a politically explosive referendum that could change the constitution and allow President Azali Assoumani to rule beyond 2021, his current term limit.
The referendum was boycotted by the opposition who called it a "power grab" by the President Azali Assoumani

Authorities have arrested around 10 people after an alleged "failed coup attempt" a fortnight after a constitutional referendum paved the way for President Azali Assoumani to extend his stay in power.

The suspects in custody include several soldiers and a prominent author, Said Ahmed Said Tourqui.

A public prosecutor has called them "a very impressive enterprise of terrorists" and local press says police searches came up with ammunition and cash.

Mr Assoumani's camp overwhelmingly won the referendum's 'yes' vote, which was met with a violent opposition boycott.

Vice-President Ahmed Said Jaffar, who denounced the plans for a constitutional referendum, was stripped of most of his duties in July during a cabinet reshuffle.

The country has been riven by more than 20 coups since independence in the 1970s.

Comoros deputy survives assassination attempt

BBC World Service

One the vice-presidents of the Indian Ocean nation of Comoros has survived an assassination attempt days before a referendum on constitutional reform.

Assailants opened fire on the car of Moustoidrane Abdou as he was returning to his home on the island of Anjouan.

Nobody was injured in the attack on Sunday morning, but the car was badly damaged.

A map showing the four main islands of the Comoros archipelago
The Comoros archipelago has four main islannds - Grande Comore, Moheli, Anjouan and Mayotte. Mayotte, however, voted against independence and is still governed by France.

The attack came a week before a controversial referendum that could allow President Azali Assoumani to extend his term in office, and abolish the vice-presidential posts.

Critics of the president have been detained and placed under house arrest during the referendum campaign, which has also seen violent clashes between protesters and security forces.

After more than 20 coups or attempted coups, the archipelago of islands that make up Comoros are trying to consolidate political stability and use tourism to climb out of poverty.