Preventing a conflict relapse in Comoros


Ongoing negotiations and the deployment of Organisation of African Unity/African Union observer missions and a military operation helped to ensure that Comoros did not experience a conflict relapse.

Engagement by the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) with the situation in Comoros brought an end to the armed conflict, however Comorian politics remained divided, and the elections scheduled for April 2002 threatened to spark renewed conflict. To maintain stability, the OAU Observer Mission to Comoros (OMIC) was redeployed in December 2001 and reinforced in March 2002.1 The elections went ahead peacefully, although low turnout and allegations of fraud did little to stabilise the situation.2 Yet another effort to stabilise Comoros took place in December 2003, this time through negotiations held under the auspices of the newly established African Union (AU). The talks culminated with an agreement which outlined a schedule for legislative elections in 2004 and a presidential contest in 2006.3 The AU established the Military Observer Mission in the Comoros (MIOC) in March 2004 to monitor events and provide security for the 2004 polls, which went ahead peacefully.4

The presidential elections were viewed as being much more likely to inspire violence, leading the AU to mandate a much larger peacekeeping mission, the African Union Mission for Support to the Elections in Comoros (AMISEC), to maintain stability. The predominantly South African operation oversaw a peaceful election, and Comoros appeared to be emerging from the crisis.5 A final round of elections for the positions of Chief Executive of each island, scheduled for May 2007, represented the final challenge before the chronically unstable archipelago completed a full election cycle peacefully. Unfortunately, the leader of the island of Anjouan refused to step down at the end of his term, threatening conflict. In response, the African Union Electoral and Security Assistance Mission to the Comoros (MAES) was dispatched in May 2007 with support from the Government of France and the Arab League.6 Although the elections went ahead peacefully enough elsewhere, Anjouan remained outside of the control of the Comorian administration. Following appeals from the Government of Comoros, the AU launched Operation Democracy in Comoros in March 2008, deploying thousands of troops to remove the renegade leader.7 This was achieved relatively peacefully, constitutional order was restored, and the following year the AU hosted a fresh round of negotiations to clarify the political structure of Comoros, culminating with another agreement in June 2010.8 Despite the ongoing instability, a conflict relapse was prevented.


2 Simon Massey & Bruce Baker. “Comoros: External Involvement in a Small Island State.” Chatham House Programme Paper AFP 2009/1. (2009) p.14

3 Accord sur les dispositions transitoires aux Comores (Accord de Maroni), 2003. Available at: (Accessed 02/12/2020)

4 World Peace Foundation. “Comoros Short Brief.” p.3

5 Global Peace Operations Review. “Comoros.” Mission Notes, No. 4.5. (2007) p.2

6 World Peace Foundation. “Comoros Short Brief.” p.3

7 Bruce Baker. “Comoros: The Search for Viability.” Civil Wars, Vol. 11, No. 3. (2009); Ahmed Ali Amir Moroni. “African Union troops quell Comoros rebellion.” The Guardian. (2008) Available at: (Accessed 02/12/2020)

8 Accord pour la gestion de la période intérimaire, 2010. Available at: (Accessed 02/12/2020)

Start Year


End Year




UN Regional Group


Type of Conflict

Risk of a conflict relapse

Type of Initiative

Diplomacy, Mediation of a peace agreement, Monitoring, observation, political, and verification missions

Main Implementing Organisation(s)

The Organisation of African Unity




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