Mwali, multiparty system, Federal Assembly, military coup, parliamentary seats
After independence from France in 1975, Comoros became politically unstable. A revolution shortly after independence installed a radical nationalist regime under Ali Soilih, which was overthrown by a coup led by mercenaries in 1978. The country was then ruled by President Ahmed Abdulla, who was backed by French mercenaries and by South Africa until he was assassinated in 1989, also by two mercenaries. Said Mohamed Djohar then took office and held onto power precariously until deposed in September 1995 by yet another coup, led by French mercenary Bob Denard. French troops intervened and arrested Denard in October. In March 1996 Mohamed Taki Abdulkarim was elected president, in the first democratic elections held since Comoros gained independence from France.
The constitution established by Djohar in 1992 was replaced in October 1996. According to the 1996 constitution, the president is elected for six years and can be reelected for an unlimited number of terms. Governors of the different islands are appointed by the president. The president also has the authority to appoint a prime minister. The legislature consists of one house, the Federal Assembly. The Federal Assembly has 42 seats and its members are elected to four-year terms. In September 1997, after the islands of Nzwani and Mwali declared their independence, Taki dissolved the government and replaced it with a State Transition Commission. After Taki died in November 1998, an interim government was established. This government was deposed in a military coup the following April and the constitution was suspended.
Technically, Comoros has had a multiparty system since independence, but under the terms of the 1996 constitution only those parties that win two parliamentary seats from each island are considered legal. There is an army, the Comorian Defense Force, but effective power has always rested with the Presidential Guard and its leader. The Presidential Guard was armed and managed by mercenaries between 1979 and 1990, and since then it has been run by the French.
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