The years since independence from France in 1975 have been characterised by political instability, with 20 coups or
attempted coups and related separatist attempts. The last was put down in 2008 by the landing of hundreds of African
Union troops on Anjouan.
The constitution of 2001 established a complex institutional framework, with the Union and each of the three
islands having a president, a parliament and a government. The presidency of the Union rotates among the three
islands. This constitutional architecture was designed to accommodate Anjouan and Moheli's desire for autonomy,
at the cost of creating a cumbersome legislative and executive process.
The constitutional reform approved by referendum in 2009 addresses some of these problems, giving clear
hierarchical priority to the federal institutions over their island counterparts. The former presidents of
the islands have been renamed governors.
The current president recently obtained a one-year extension of his term in order to harmonise the presidential electoral
schedule with that for the island governors and thus hold unified elections. Presidential and gubernatorial elections are
now scheduled for November 2011.