Comoros Table of Contents
Comoros' most significant international relationship is that with France. The three years of estrangement following the unilateral declaration of independence and the nationalistic Soilih regime were followed during the conservative Abdallah and Djohar regimes by a period of growing trade, aid, cultural, and defense links between the former colony and France, punctuated by frequent visits to Paris by the head of state and occasional visits by the French president to Moroni. The leading military power in the region, France has detachments on Mahoré and Reunion, and its Indian Ocean fleet sails the waters around the islands. France and Comoros signed a mutual security treaty in 1978; following the mercenary coup against Abdallah in 1989, French troops restored order and took responsibility for reorganizing and training the Comoran army. With Mahoré continuing to gravitate politically and economically toward France, and Comoros increasingly dependent on the French for help with its own considerable social, political, and economic problems, the issue of Mahoré diminished somewhat in urgency.
The close relationship Comoros developed with South Africa in the 1980s was much less significant to both countries in the 1990s. With the reform of its apartheid government, South Africa no longer needed Comoros as evidence of its ostensible ability to enjoy good relations with a black African state; the end of the Cold War had also diminished Comoros' strategic value to Pretoria. Although South Africa continued to provide developmental aid, it closed its consulate in Moroni in 1992. Since the 1989 coup and subsequent expulsion of South Africanfinanced mercenaries, Comoros likewise turned away from South Africa and toward France for assistance with its security needs.
The government fostered close relationships with the more conservative (and oil-rich) Arab states, such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. It frequently received aid from those countries and the regional financial institutions they influenced, such as the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa and the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development. In October 1993, Comoros joined the League of Arab States, after having been rejected when it applied for membership initially in 1977.
Regional relations generally were good. In 1985 Madagascar, Mauritius, and Seychelles agreed to admit Comoros as the fourth member of the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC), an organization established in 1982 to encourage regional cooperation. In 1993 Mauritius and Seychelles had two of the five embassies in Moroni, and Mauritius and Madagascar were connected to the republic by regularly scheduled commercial flights.
Comoros also hosted an embassy of China, which established relations during the Soilih regime. The Chinese had long been a source of aid and apparently wished to maintain contact with Comoros to counterbalance Indian and Soviet (later Russian) influence in the Indian Ocean. Comoran relations with Japan were also significant because Japan was the second largest provider of aid, consisting of funding for fisheries, food, and highway development. The United States established diplomatic relations in 1977 but in September 1993 closed it embassy in Moroni. The two countries enjoy friendly relations.
In November 1975, Comoros became the 143d member of the UN. In the 1990s, the republic continued to represent Mahoré in the UN. Comoros was also a member of the OAU, the EDF, the World Bank, the IMF, the IOC, and the African Development Bank.
Comoros thus cultivated relations with various nations, both East and West, seeking to increase trade and obtain financial assistance. In 1994, however, it was increasingly facing the need to control its expenditures and reorganize its economy so that it would be viewed as a sounder recipient of investment. Comoros also confronted domestically the problem of the degree of democracy the government was prepared to grant to its citizens, a consideration that related to its standing in the world community.
* * *
The reader seeking recent works on the history, politics, and society of Comoros also needs to consult a number of publications that cover the republic as one of many African or Indian Ocean countries. These include Africa Analysis, Africa Contemporary Record, Africa Events, Africa Research Bulletin, and Africa South of the Sahara. Other periodically issued sources include the annual country-by-country Amnesty International Report and the newsletters Africa Confidential and Indian Ocean Newsletter. Whereas the Times of London, New York Times, and Washington Post report Comoros' more serious upheavals, more regular coverage is provided by Le Monde. Useful social and economic data can be obtained from World Bank publications. One such publication in particular, Social Indicators of Development, an annual, provides country-by-country tables of data on indicators of poverty and resources and expenditures. Books such as Thierry Flobert's 1976 work, Les Comores: Évolution juridique et socio-politique, the World Bank 1979 publication The Comoros: Problems and Prospects of a Small, Island Economy, and Malyn Newitt's The Comoro Islands: Struggle Against Dependency in the Indian Ocean, provide useful background despite their growing datedness. (For further information and complete citations, see Bibliography.)
Data as of August 1994
Comoros Table of Contents