The second-largest island
in the Comoros
. Traditionally called Anjouan, but after independence of the archipelago
in 1975 the islands were given new or altered names, and Anjouan became Nzwani
, though lately I've also seen it in the form Ndzuwani
. (An early English name for it was Johanna
.) The capital is Mutsamudu
. It has an area of about 420 km2
and a population of about 240 000. An earlier capital is the old town of Domoni
. The highest point is the volcano Mt Ntingi
at 1575 m high. The local dialect of the Comorian
language (close to Swahili
) is called Shinzwani
Sultans or chiefs called fani ruled parts of Anjouan until in 1886 it became a French protectorate, annexed in 1909. It was one of three of four islands in the Comoros that became part of the independent republic in 1975.
In March 1997 secessionists began agitating for separation from the Comoros and either independence or re-association with France, that is resuming the status that the neighbouring island of Mayotte has always had. They began flying both the French tricolor and the so-called Mawana flag, the flag of the last pre-colonial sultan of the island: this is red with a white right hand held up over a white crescent.
On 1 August 1997 the federal president of the Comoros offered greater autonomy, but Anjouan declared itself independent two days later and established a government under President Foundi Abdallah Ibrahim, a Koranic teacher. A constitution for l'Etat d'Anjouan was approved by referendum on 15 February 1998. It confirmed the Mawana flag.
The federal government imposed sanctions, supported by the rest of the world, but lifted them in August 2000. It also made an abortive attempt to take back the island militarily. Negotiations for reunification continue with the present leader of Anjouan, Colonel Abderamane Said Abeid. The crisis has not however prevented Anjouan from getting itself a nice little earner in the tax haven and Internet casino businesses.
A few developments in the news after I wrote this node:
9 August 2001. A military coup took place today in Anjouan, in cooperation with one of the island's separatist Islamic leaders, Salim Ali Abdou. Members of the civilian government have been arrested. Major Mohammed Bacar has taken power.
24 September 2001. A two-day rebellion begins under Ahmed Aboubacar Foundi, styling himself premier chef d'autorité de l'île.
3 November 2001. Former leader Colonel Abeid attempted to seize power again, seizing Radio Anjouan. He was opposed to measures by the new government that might lead to reunification with the other islands, in a referendum to be put on 23 December. One person was reported killed in the coup.
5 November 2001. Major Bacar said "heads would roll" after the failed coup attempt. Colonel Abeid was reported to have fled. It's all go, innit?
23 December 2001. A referendum in the three islands of the Comoros gives sweeping approval to a new federal constitution, giving each island greater autonomy in a new Union of the Comoros. Support on Anjouan is 90%.
10 March 2002. New consitution for the island approved, as a member of the Union of Comoros.
14 April 2002. Existing and ex-rebel head of state Mohammed Bacar becomes president of Anjouan under the new constitution. But most Anjouan voters abstain from the federal presidential election held on the same day, and which the electoral commission nullifies a week later.
2003-2005. It seems to have settled down.