Referendum in Mayotte
March 31st, 2009 at 7:50 pm - by Blake Allen
In a referendum held on March 29th, 2009 the island of Mayotte voted 95.2% in favour of becoming a French overseas department in 2011.
Since the French constitutional reform of March 28th, 2003, Mayotte has been a French overseas collectivity of France, a form of administrative division in the French Republic with the same legal status as an ‘arrondissement’, which is comparable to a county in the United States or a district in England.
Including the island of Corsica on the Mediterranean Sea, France currently has 96 administrative departments (these are similar to American states or Canadian provinces) subdivided into 330 arrondissements as well as 6 overseas collectives. However, France also possesses 4 overseas departments (French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Réunion) which posses the same legal authority and status as a French department despite their distance from mainland France.(Similar to the American state of Hawaii.)
Mayotte, a single island located in the Indian Ocean between Madagascar and Mozambique home to less than 200,000 people (known by denonym as Mahoran) will stand out as a French department; not only because of the islands size and population, but its unique demographics which show the island’s dominant religion as Islam with 95% of Mahorans claiming themselves to be Muslim and only 50% of the island’s citizens capable of reading or writing in French.
This referendum has been the cause of much controversy in the region however, and has been feircly opposed by both the African Union and the Union of Comoros (an independent island nation directly north of Mayotte) who claim it to be “occupation by a foreign power”
When defined by geography, the island of Mayotte is a part of the Comoros Archipelago, although when the other three islands of Comoros received independence from France in 1975, Mahorans voted to remain a part of the French Republic as an overseas collectivity. Today the GDP of Mayotte is roughly 10 times higher than the GDP of Comoros.
Idi Nadhoim, the Vice-President of Comoros, has called the Mahoran referendum a “declaration of war.”