Transitional Demobilization and Reintegration Program
Country Brief:

The Union of the Comoros is a small archipelago with an estimated population of 734.750 (2010) covering a territory of about 1,800 square kilometers. About 52% of the population lives on the largest island, Ngazidja (or Grande Comore), which is also home to the Union capital, Moroni, the seat of the Union government. The second largest island, Nzwani (Anjouan), has 42% of the population, and the smallest, Mwali (Mohéli), six percent. A fourth island, Mahoré (Mayotte), opted against independence from France, in a referendum held on all four islands in 1974. Comoros has a high population density of about 390 inhabitants per square kilometer and a population growth rate estimated at 2.4%. An estimated 53% of the population is younger than 20-years-old.

Comoros is a fragile state with a long history of political and institutional instability. There have been some 21 coups and coup attempts since it declared independence from France in July 1975. In 2001, a reconciliation agreement was signed in Fomboni, capital of Mohéli. In December 2001, a new constitution was adopted creating the Union of the Comoros with considerable autonomy accorded to each of the three islands. While these achievements have allowed the establishment of a more representative institutional structure and a more stable political environment, the resulting administrative structure has proven costly and cumbersome. Following a period of uncertainty in 2010, when President Saambi sought to extend his term in office beyond constitutional limits, Comoros’ main political parties agreed on transitional arrangements. In late 2010 Presidential and gubernatorial elections were held, which are considered to have been free and fair. In a smooth transfer of power, only the second time in Comoros’s history that power has been transferred in a democratic fashion, Dr. Ikililou Dhoinine assumed the Presidency on May 26, 2011. This election provides an opportunity to break the cycle of instability in this country.

Comoros’ prolonged political conflicts, fragile political economy, institutions and environment, continue to undermine its development potential. Economic shocks, microeconomic imbalances and the debt burden have also had a negative impact on growth and poverty reduction. Under the enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC), Executive Directors of the World Bank considered a Decision Point Document, prepared by the staffs of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), on June 29, 2010, and concluded that Comoros is eligible for assistance. The assessment is a step towards forgiveness of the majority of the country’s foreign debt, and could pave the way to achieving their HIPC completion Point as early as the end of 2012. Such forgiveness, accompanied by stronger fiscal management, governance and other public sector reforms, are expected to improve Comoros’ prospects for economic growth and poverty reduction.

TDRP Activities:

Since September 2011, the World Bank through TDRP collaborates with the AU Peace and Security Department (PSD) and the United Nations (UN) on DDR and stabilization in Comoros. A joint AU-UN- WB/TDRP assessment mission to Comoros was conducted in February 2012. The mission took place in the context of the AU Post Conflict Recovery and Development (PCRD) policy framework of 2006. The focus of the TDRP team was on application of best-practice on socio-economic reintegration of ex-combatants. The mission reinforced that the islands of the Comoros remain in a situation of extreme fragility linked to (i) the institutional setup by pro motion autonomy Islands which is difficult to manage centrally, (ii) the socio-political instability related to unopened or incomplete process for DDR, SSR, (iii) the uncertainty and youth unemployment, (iv) lack of development projects or partnerships in this matter.

The TDRP will continue to provide technical assistance to Comoros as requested.


Country facts
Population (millions) 717,500
Life expectancy at birth (years) 60
Surface area (thousands sq. km) 2,235
Gross national income per capita (current US$) 840
GDP growth (annual %) 3
 World Development Indicators
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