People in Comoros are constitutionally protected in the enjoyment of their fundamental freedoms, which are also safeguarded in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Comoros is a state party. In spite of these protections and the important role that civil society organisations (CSOs) play in Comoros, the state imposes restrictions on their full enjoyment of basic civic freedoms. In a country that has experienced more than twenty coups or attempted coups since independence, tensions can increase during elections, resulting in a closure of civic space and increased state attention to public demonstrations during election time. The media provides a range of views, but the state sometimes interferes with free media when journalists report state corruption or wrongdoing.
In July 2018 a referendum took placed that reformed the constitution, allowing President Azali Assoumani to seek another term. However, critics and election observers questioned the election, which was boycotted by the opposition and took place amid a crackdown on dissent and a general strike. According to reports, a few months before the election, the president banned demonstrations. In addition, opposition figures who opposed the referendum were persecuted. For example, former president Ahmed Abdallah Mohamed Sambi was detained in August 2018 for alleged corruption.
In March 2019 presidential elections took place. The electoral body declared President Azali Assoumani as the winner with 60.77 percent of the votes. Opposition candidates stated that the election was “marred by irregularities including barring of independent monitors and marking of ballot papers before voting began”.
In 2019, Reporters Without Borders stated that an “unprecedented series of press freedom violations [have taken place] in recent weeks in Comoros”, including the detention of journalists, threats to journalists and censorship.
Civic Space Developments