Comoros. Several government reforms were carried out during the year, the most pervasive in May when ten of the government’s eleven ministers were dismissed. The fragile economy led to dissatisfaction with the regime. At the beginning of May, many government employees had not received their salaries in over a year. It became the beginning of a wave of strikes and protests. The government’s decision in the same month to close a regime-critical private radio station caused tensions to increase.
In July, a cholera epidemic broke out on the main island of Ngazidja (Grande Comore) that required at least 40 deaths.
According to Countryaah, the capital of Comoros is Moroni. The most serious problem was still the conflict between the government and the separatists on the islands of Nzwani (Anjouan) and Mwali (Mohéli), who since 1997 fought for liberation from the main island of Ngazidja and for re-accession to France. Mediation attempts by the African Organization of African Unity (OAU) were viewed with distrust by the Nzwani separatists who accused the OAU of partying to President Mohammed Taki Abdulkarim. At the end of February, a referendum was held on Nzwani where 99.5% voted in favor of a new constitution. The difficulties in finding a solution to the conflict were compounded by contradictions between different political factions on Nzwani. The gap was very much between those who wanted the island to be linked again to France and those who advocated full independence. On the smaller of the two eruption islands, Mwali, however, the leaders appeared to be willing to remain in the Comoros provided the island was given increased autonomy. On November 6, President Taki died unexpectedly in a heart attack. This led to increased tensions on Nzwani, and in early December, fighting broke out, which by the middle of the month was said to have claimed some 60 lives. Tadjidine ben Said Massounde, who was the country’s prime minister in 1996-97, was named interim president.