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Union of the Comoros – Elections (24 March 2019)

France has been monitoring the situation in the Comoros since the election on March 24. It deplores the violence and tensions that were seen on the day of the vote and in the days following the proclamation of provisional results by the Independent National Electoral Commission, on which the Supreme Court must rule on April 3.

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France and Comoros

Political relations

On 21 June 2013, Presidents François Hollande and Ikililou Dhoinine of France and the Comoros signed the “Paris declaration on friendship and cooperation between France and the Union of the Comoros” to reshape the bilateral relationship. A strengthened political dialogue was opened with the creation of a “High Joint Council” (HCP) which has so far met five times.

The fifth HCP meeting on 12 September 2017 was an opportunity to strengthen bilateral dialogue, as agreed by the French President and his counterpart in their telephone call of 5 June that year.

After a few tense months due to the decision of the Comoros authorities on 21 March 2018 to cease readmitting the country’s citizens who entered Mayotte illegally, the signing of a joint declaration by the respective Foreign Ministers of the two countries on 6 November that year breathed new life into our bilateral cooperation.

During President Azali’s official visit to France in July 2019, a renewed partnership framework document was signed, involving mutual commitments in order to effectively combat human tragedies at sea. It came with a development plan worth €150 million over three years in health, education and employment, especially youth employment.

Visits

  • 21 June 2013: President Hollande received President Ikililou at the Élysée Palace to sign the declaration of friendship
  • 23 August 2014: President Hollande took part in the Indian Ocean Commission Summit in Moroni
  • 26 May 2016: Mr André Vallini attended the inauguration ceremony of President Azali
  • 4 October 2016: meeting of President Hollande with President Azali at the Élysée Palace, ahead of the fourth HCP, chaired for the Comoros by Mr Mohamed Bacar Dossar, Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • 12 September 2017: fifth HCP meeting, co-chaired by Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian and his counterpart, Mr Mohamed Souef
  • 11 April 2018: meeting between Mr Jean Baptiste Lemoyne, Mr Mohamed Souef and President Azali in Moroni
  • 19 April 2018: meeting between Mr Mohamed Souef and Mr Jean Yves Le Drian in Paris
  • 24 August 2018: meeting between Mr Mohamed Souef and Mr Jean Yves Le Drian in Paris
  • 11 November 2018: President Azali Assoumani took part in the Paris Peace Forum and met with President Macron
  • 22-25 July 2019: President Azali Assoumani made an official visit to France and met with President Macron on 22 July 2019.

Economic relations

The volume of bilateral trade more than doubled between 2009 and 2018, rising from €25 million to €53.6 million (117% rise), of which €33.7 million of French exports and €19.9 million of imports. The Union of the Comoros is our 133rd-largest customer, generating our 80th-largest surplus globally.

Several major French companies are present in the Comoros, including Colas (operation of a quarry and gravel crushing), Lafarge (creation of a cement bagging plant), Bolloré, BIC-Comores (BNP Paribas), Air Austral-Ewa Air, Camusat (telecommunications manufacturer working on a coast surveillance project worth €25 million) and Telco (subsidiary of the French-Malagasy group Telma (Free)). Some 15 small companies specialized in trade are also present, originating in mainland France or La Réunion or belonging to binationals.

  • Diaspora remittances to the Comoros are considerable (representing 18%-25% of GDP).
  • The competent economic section is that of the Embassy of France in Madagascar.

Cooperation

French cooperation with the Union of the Comoros is governed by a joint programming framework document. The document for the period 2015-2020 provides for a total budget of €135 million, including more than €25 million for implementation by the Agence Française de Développement (AFD, French Development Agency) for projects that are already prepared. Their implementation does, however, depend on the country’s ability to address its many handicaps: energy, isolation, maritime transport, subcontracting and compliance with contracts. At this stage, these weaknesses affect the volume of disbursements, which remains below the targets set.

On 27 September 2010, France and the Union of the Comoros signed a new Defence Partnership Agreement to develop the Comorian armed forces’ capabilities and providing for cooperation in the field of maritime safety.

France has also placed two international technical experts (ITE) at the disposal of the Union of the Comoros, one specialized in the fields of airport security and air and border policing, and another attached to the Interior Ministry to support it in saving lives at sea.

France is also active in cultural cooperation. Alliance Française branches are present on each of the three islands of the Union of the Comoros (Grande-Comore, Anjouan and Mohéli), with 3,000 learners enrolled for French classes. The Henri Matisse French school is under contract with the Agency for French Education Abroad (AEFE) and has many pupils in Moroni. Lastly, cooperation provision also includes a Campus France office with the study-in-France centre (CEF) procedure, attached to the Madagascar Institut Français.

Updated: 22 January 2020