The Vice President of the Comoros, who recently denounced President Azali Assoumani’s plans for a constitutional referendum as “illegal”, has been stripped of most of his duties as part of a cabinet reshuffle.
As Vice President, Ahmed Said Jaffar had been in charge of eight ministries, including the agriculture, energy and industry portfolios.
But following the shakeup, he was only left with one – the social cohesion ministry, according to an official decree published on Thursday.
Earlier this month, Jaffar had very publicly criticised Assoumani’s plans for a July 29 referendum which could allow the president to remain in power beyond 2021 when his term would otherwise end.
Under the current constitution, there is a rotation of power every five years between the three main islands that make up this Indian Ocean archipelago which lies between Mozambique and Madagascar.
But if the referendum passes, it could allow Assoumani to run for two new five-year terms, a move that Jaffar has condemned as “illegal” and a threat to the country’s political future.
Earlier this week, he also sent a letter to the African Union (AU) in which he said Assoumani should abandon such plans. They risk “plunging the country into a deep political crisis,” he wrote.
Assoumani, who was elected in 2016, has three vice presidents who took office at the same time but under the constitution, he does not have the power to dismiss them.
Comoros was plunged into crisis in April when Assoumani suspended the Constitutional Court, the highest court in the country, sparking opposition protests.
On May 20, former president Ahmed Abdallah Sambi, one of Assoumani’s leading critics, was placed under house arrest at his home near the capital Moroni. He filed suit to challenge the order but lost his appeal on Thursday.
Another prominent opposition leader – Ahmed el-Barwane, secretary general of the Juwa opposition – was jailed earlier this month following violent clashes between security forces and anti-government demonstrators.
The planned referendum has sparked widespread demonstrations and clashes across these volcanic islands which won independence from France in 1975 but has since been blighted by a string of political crises and coups.
A new constitution was adopted in 2001 which stipulated the rotation of power every five years between the three islands – Anjouan, Grande-Comore and Moheli, which have a population of around 800,000 people, nearly all of them Sunni Muslims.
Assoumani served as president following a bloodless coup in 1999, staying in power until 2006. He then stood down after losing power to Sambi who served until 2011.
Tigray’s Humanitarian Crisis Deteriorate
The United Nation’s High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR’s representative in Ethiopia, Ann Encontre says humanitarian situation in northern Ethiopia’s Tigray regional state has deteriorated rapidly since the armed conflict broke out in the state earlier this month.
In an online interview, Encontre said with the deterioration of the humanitarian situation, Tigray’s humanitarian aid operations are in trouble.
Encontre pointed out also that the armed conflict has stopped the locals from focusing on the COVID-19 epidemic prevention and control which has become another crisis for the state.
Uganda, South Sudan Forces Meet Over Border Clashes
South Sudan and Uganda border authorities have met in the northern Ugandan City of Gulu to harmonize border security dispute between the two countries.
South Sudan chief of general staff, General Johnson Okot, who met with Uganda deputy chief of defense forces, Lieutenant-General Wilson Mbasu Mbadi, called on the armies of the two countries to generate a memorandum of understanding in order to advance their pan African interests.
Tensions had been brewing along the border areas of Ngomoro in Lamwo district, and parts of Kitgum and Karamoja region.
An 18-member African Union group set up in 2016 for the delimitation and demarcation of the Uganda-South Sudan border has been unable to do its work because of fighting between groups loyal to South Sudan president Salva Kiir and his vice president Riek Machar.
Uganda Deploys More Soldiers Amid Protests
Uganda military has increased deployment of soldiers in the nation`s capital, Kampala, and other major towns to counter protests that broke out following the arrest of presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi, popularly known as Bobi Wine.
Early weeks of campaigning have been marked by violence ahead of the country`s January election.
At least 28 persons have been killed across the country during violent protests, live bullets and teargas were fired in Kampala on Thursday, to disperse demonstrators. The police say more than 500 persons have been arrested.
Deputy army spokesperson, Colonel Deo Akiiki says more soldiers will be deployed at all major roads leading into the capital and increased security at sensitive areas such as fuel reservoirs and petrol stations.
A curfew is being enforced with immediate effect. Since Wednesday, groups of young people have set up barricades, burnt tyres and piles of rubbish in the streets of Kampala and other towns. They were met with a violent police response and dispersed with tear gas.
Bobi Wine was arrested at an election rally in the east of the country and accused of violating coronavirus prevention guidelines. He has been arraigned in court after two days in police custody. Several opposition presidential candidates suspended their campaigns, calling for Bobi Wine’s release.