Anjouan

Anjouan

Anjouan (also known as Ndzuwani or Nzwani) is an autonomous island of the Union of Comoros. The island is located in the Indian Ocean. Its capital is Mutsamudu and its population as of 2006 is about 277,500. The total area of the island is 424 sq. kilometers (163 sq. mi.).

History

Early and colonial history

The first inhabitants of the island were explorers and immigrants from Indonesia and Polynesia. After that people all around the Indian Ocean began to come to Anjouan and the Comoros Islands. In about 1500, the Sultanate of Ndzuwani (Anjouan) was founded, which took over the entire island (for further information see: List of sultans on the Comoros). The sultanate was the most powerful of all the Comorian sultanates. In 1816, Sultan Alawi bin Husein first requested French assistance against the Sultanate of Zanzibar which was threatening his domain. The island came under French protection in 1886 and was formally annexed by France in 1912. The strictly republican annexation was opposed by the last reigning sultan but his meager forces were crushed when they offered resistance.

Anjouan under independent Comoros

Anjouan joined the State of Comoros when it became independent in 1975.

Independent and autonomous Anjouan

In 1997, the islands of Anjouan and Mohéli seceded from the Comoros. On 3 August 1997, Anjouan declared itself the independent State of Anjouan (État d’Anjouan) with Foundi Abdallah Ibrahim as president. A constitution was adopted for Anjouan in a referndum on 25 February 1998.

In 1999, Anjouan had internal conflicts and on 1 August of that year, the 80-year-old Foundi Abdallah Ibrahim resigned, transferring power to a national coordinator, Said Abeid. The government was overthrown in a coup by army and navy officers on 9 August 2001. Mohamed Bacar soon rose to leadership of the junta that took over and by the end of the month he was the leader of the country. Despite two coup attempts in the following three months, including one by Abeid, Bacar’s government remained in power, and was apparently more willing to negotiate with Comoros.

Under Bacar, the islands were reunified with Comoros in 2002 and a new Comoran constitution mandated the election of a President of Anjouan along with presidents for the other two islands and a federal president. Bacar was elected for a 5-year term as President of the Autonomous Island of Anjouan. His term expired on 14 April 2007 and the president of the assembly, Houmadi Caambi, became acting president from 15 April until he was overthrown by forces loyal to Bacar on 10 May.

Peace talks were held between the government and the local regime in Anjouan and agreed to hold free elections in which Mohamed Bacar would stand. Although the Union government delayed the election - citing alleged irregularities and intimidation — Bacar felt able to prove his popularity as he unilaterally printed ballots and held an election in June. The result, as expected, was an overwhelming victory of 90 percent. In July 2007, he once again declared the island of Anjouan to be independent of the Comoros.

2008 invasion of Anjouan

In February 2008, the Comoros rejected the African Union's extended sanctions against Anjouan and instead opted for a military solution. In early March, the Comoros armed forces and around 400 international reinforcements from the African Union assembled on the island of Mohéli. Hostilities began on March 11, when Comorian forces staged an armed incursion on the island but diplomacy continued with an intervention by South African President Thabo Mbeki who attempted to delay the planned invasion to the distinct displeasure of the Comorian government. There were further incursions between 14 March and 16 March and clashes between local forces loyal to Mohamed Bacar and, presumably, those from the African Union invasion force which then retreated back to Mohéli.

On 19 March, a French military helicopter on a clandestine mission from French-adminsitered Mayotte crashed in the sea close to the city of Sima on Anjouan. Critics of the action allege the helicopter was involved in an attempt to bring Bacar into French exile, and that Bacar was only holding out so long because he was protected by the French.

The main operation and, ultimately, the invasion of Anjouan began on the evening of 24 March when five boats transporting approximately 1,500 soldiers had left Mohéli on their way to Anjouan. In the early hours of 25 March, an amphibious landing was made by Comoran troops supported by contingents from the African Union. The combined forces quickly advanced on the town of Ouani to secure the airfield. After the airport was secured the invasion force apparently split where part of it headed south-west to engage Anjouanais loyalists in the capital, Matsumudu, and the remainder headed south-east capturing the port of Bambao M'Sanga and the second city of Domoni without resistance.

Mohamed Bacar managed to escape to Mayotte by 26 March to seek political asylum. He was subsequently held in custody there by the French administration and brought to the island of Réunion, where he was charged for entering French territory illegally and possession of weapons. On 15 May, France rejected Bacar's request for asylum but the French refugee office ruled that the ousted leader could not extradited to Comoros because of the risk of persecution. France's State Secretary for Overseas, Yves Jégo, said France would support the Comoran government's efforts. "We will continue to act in consultation with the Comoros so that the law can be applied and Col Bacar can be tried.

Post-invasion Anjouan

Following the March 2008 invasion of Anjouan, the interim president of Anjouan was Laili Zamane Abdou In May 2008, The Constitutional Court of the Comoros approved five candidates to contest the Anjouan presidential election of 15 June and invalidated the candidacy of Mohamed Bacar. Comoran President A.A. Sambi supported engineer Moussa Toybou for the position who won a bare plurality in the initial balloting. In the second round of the elections held on 29 June, he was contested by political veteran Mohamed Djaanfari but won with 52% of the vote.

Geography

Anjouan is part of the Comoros Islands located in the Mozambique Channel. The second most important (and the most populous) city on Anjouan is Domoni.

Climate

The highs on the island range from 27°C to 32°C (80°F to 90°F) year-round. The weather is warm and humid from December to April and slightly cooler from May to November.

Culture

African mainlanders, Creoles, Arabs, Malay-Polynesians, Antalotes and Shirazi Persians make up the population of Anjouan. The main religion is Sunni Islam. Although the island is filled with large numbers of mosques, religious observance is not as strict as it is in many other countries observing Islam. Alcohol is forbidden. Because of the French influence on the island much of the cuisine is similar to French food.

Economy

The island uses the Comorian franc as a currency. The economy of the island is dependent on agriculture and related industries. These industries employ over 80% of the work force. The island's main food staple is rice, most of which must be imported. Anjouan is the world's primary exporter of ylang-ylang oil, an ingredient in almost all perfumes.

Politics

Presidential elections were held in Anjouan on 15 June following the 2008 invasion of Anjouan to oust Mohamed Bacar as President of Anjouan. About 128,000 people were eligible to vote. Mohamed Djaanfari, a former vice-president of the Assembly of the Union of the Comoros, and Moussa Toybou, a former minister in Said Mohamed Djohar's government, advanced to the runoff round held on 29 June. The final official result, as confirmed by the constitutional court on 3 July 2008, declared Toybou the winner with 52.42% of the vote to Djaanfari's 47.58%.

Military

Anjouan invested heavily in its national security under Mohamed Bacar. Main components were the Gendarmerie commanded by Commander Abdou, the younger brother of Bacar. A battalion size militia of approximately 500 backed the Gendarmerie. The readiness status of Anjouanese defence forces is unknown as is the armament and equipment status. However, the Anjouanese defence forces outweigh the neighboring Comorian defence forces and are regarded as somewhat more professional than the opponent (Comorian defence forces).

The Anjouanais defence forces is not known to have any air defence or naval warfare capacity.
Small arms :
- AK-47

The main strategic area is the airfield at Ouani with its 1.5 km runway and the bay with the coastal road from the capital Mutsamudu in the east out to the city of Sima in the west.

See also

References

External links

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