As voters in the Comoros go to the polls on Monday for referendum clouded by political tension and a clampdown and an attempted assassination just days before the vote, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, has urged all sides to refrain from actions that can further complicate the current situation.
According to news24, the Indian Ocean archipelago is being asked to vote on changes to the constitution put forward by President Azali Assoumani.
But the plan has run into fierce protests with Assoumani opponents charging it is a ploy for him to retain power beyond 2021, when his currently non-renewable single term would otherwise end.
Opposition lawmakers on Saturday demanded an “unconditional halt without delay to the arbitrary and illegal process” of the referendum.
But Interior Minister Mohamed Daoudou dismissed the opposition’s concerns: “We shall not allow disorder to take root in the country.”
Daoudou warned that “those people (who urged a halt to the process) will have to explain themselves – their punishment will fit their acts”.
Under the current constitution adopted in 2001, power rotates every five years between the country’s three main islands as a means of balancing power in the coup-prone country.
Mahamat said the AU is closely following developments in the Comoros in the context of the constitutional referendum and expresses concern at the prevailing tension and differences among political stakeholders and at their potential consequences on the long-term stability of the archipelago.
He urges all concerned to refrain from actions that can further complicate the current situation, stressing the imperative of preserving the hard-won gains made in terms of stability and reconciliation following years of a separatist and institutional crisis.
Mahamat reiterates the call made at the African Union Summit in Nouakchott, early this month, for an inclusive dialogue to achieve consensus on the issues at hand. The African Union remains ready to facilitate such a dialogue.