Comoros seeks $4.6 billion in investment to climb out of poverty

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The Comoros islands have endured about 20 coups since winning independence from France in 1975./AFP
Comoros’ President Azali Assoumani during an interview with Reuters in Paris, France, December 1, 2019./REUTERS

Comoros’ President Azali Assoumani says he wants to raise 4.2 billion euros ($4.63 billion) at an investment conference this week as he seeks to consolidate political stability and improve the economy ahead of elections next year.

The Indian ocean archipelago is one of the world’s poorest countries, with a population of just 800,000 people who rely on the export of ylang ylang, a key ingredient for perfumes, vanilla and cloves – all of which are prone to price swings.

With a history of assassinations, mercenary invasions and some 20 coups or attempted rebellions since independence from France in 1975, Comoros has been known for its political instability – which many locals blame on continued interference by the French.

Located between Mozambique and Madagascar, Comoros has been more stable in recent years, but Assoumani’s re-election in March came amid allegations of vote-rigging following a referendum that enabled him to run for a second term and possibly longer.

“The Comoros has lived through difficult times, but we’ve decided to turn the page,” Assoumani said.

Assoumani, a former army officer, whose first stint in power came after a coup in 1999, was speaking ahead of an international conference organized by the World Bank and the French government in Paris this week outlining an economic plan running to 2030.

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