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Street Clashes in Comoros Over Presidential Term Extension

FILE - Comoros' President Azali Assoumani arrives at a polling station to cast his ballot during a constitutional referendum, July 30, 2018, outside Moroni capital of the Comoros archipelago off Africa's east coast.

Protesters barricaded roads with tree trunks and clashed with soldiers in Comoros Monday as they demonstrated against President Azali Assoumani’s attempt to extend term limits.

Witnesses reported hearing gunfire and seeing security forces dismantle the barricades on Anjouan island, according to the French news agency.

The last few months have seen the archipelago between continental Africa and Madagascar rocked by political tumult, as President Assoumani has jailed opposition figures and critics.

His bid to compete in the nation's 2019 presidential elections has stoked anger among residents of the island of Anjouan, as doing so would deny them their turn to hold the presidency starting 2021 under a system that rotates the post among the country’s three islands.

Assoumani held a referendum last June to determine whether he could run for two more five-year terms. Opposition parties called the move illegal and boycotted the referendum. Assoumani declared victory by a 92.74 percent margin.

Assoumani, from the island of Gran Comore, came to power after winning the archipelago's 2016 elections, and previously led the island from 1999 to 2006 after seizing power in a military coup.

Last month, Comoros prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for former Vice President Jaffar Ahmed Said Hassani, a vocal critic of the referendum, on charges of plotting against the state.