The successors of Mohammad Bin Hassan did not have the same leadership competencies of their predecessor and their conflict over power was not resolved until each of them was given independent control of their island. The islands were divided into 12 emirates.
The emirates were too preoccupied with their peripheral and personal conflicts to pay heed to the menace of outsiders and enemies who had started to infiltrate the Comoros. By helping some emirs against their rivals, France managed to enter the Comoros and to occupy Mayotte in 1841, then Mwali in 1886 before declaring the Comoros an official French colony in 1912. France arrested Sultan Ali Bin Omar, the last of powerful Comorian men, and the situation remained as such until the Second World War.
When Germany occupied France in the Second World War, Britain took over the Comoros and made it a base for its warships in the Indian Ocean. After the war, the Comoros was ceded back to France and De Gaulle declared it a French overseas territory. However, movements claiming autonomy began to rise and multiply. Three islands voted for independence while Mayotte voted against it. Yet, this did not stop Ahmad Abdulla from declaring unilateral independence on July 6, 1975 and becoming the first President of the Republic of Comoros.
France refused to let the islands enjoy stability and the Comoros remained until recently a stage for turmoil and frequent coups d’état. Since independence, the country has witnessed 20 coups d’état and coup attempts.
On August 3, 1975, French mercenary Bob Denard ousted President Ahmad Abdulla in a military coup plotted with the help of France, and replaced him by the United National Front member Emir Said Mohammad Jaafar. He was also dethroned a few months later, giving way to the Minister of Defense Ali Soilih. The rule of Soilih saw seven coup attempts before he was finally dismissed from authority and killed. Power was ceded once again to Ahmad Abdulla who remained in office until he was shot dead in his office in 1989. Said Mohammad Jawhar succeeded him until 1995 when the French sent him into exile.
In 1997, Anjouan and Mwali declared themselves as independent states in a bid to be integrated again into the French Republic but France refused this. This resulted in bloody confrontations between the rebels and the Union Forces until the Army’s Chief of Staff, Colonel Azali Assoumani, lead a coup deposing interim President Tadjidine Ben Said Massounde, thus marking the 18th coup d’état in the Comoros.
Upon Azali’s failure to enhance his powers, the African Union intervened to devise a new political charter for what it called the “Union of the Comoros”, allowing the three major islands to be largely autonomous, with a union presidency to be rotated every four years between them. The 2006 elections, which rotated the union presidency to Anjouan, were won by Ahmed Abdallah Mohamed Sambi.
On March 25, 2008 hundreds of the African Union and the Comorian troops took over the rebel-held island of Anjouan, driving Mohammad Bakkar to seek political asylum in the Mayotte Island, a French overseas department located in the Indian Ocean. Ikililou Dhoinine is the current President of Comoros.