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16 Jan, 2024 09:37

Comoros president seeks fourth term

While opposition in the East African island nation has alleged fraud, Azali Assoumani is confident of victory in the first round
Comoros president seeks fourth term

Comoros is awaiting the results of the East African nation’s general elections which were held on Sunday. President Azali Assoumani, who is seeking a fourth term in office, has projected himself as the winner despite allegations of irregularities.

Out of the Indian Ocean island nation’s more than 800,000 population, 338,940 people registered to vote at 868 polling stations nationwide, according to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

There is confidence that I will win the first round. It is God who will decide and the Comorian people. If I win the first round, it will save time and money,” AFP quoted Assoumani as saying on Sunday after voting in his hometown of Mitsoudje, near the capital, Moroni.

While provisional results are expected on Friday, five opposition candidates who ran against Assoumani have alleged attempts to rig the vote in favour of the president, including fraud and ballot box stuffing.

As in 2019, we are witnessing an electoral fraud by Azali Assoumani with the army’s complicity,” Mouigni Baraka Said Soilihi, one of the opposition candidates, told reporters during a press conference attended by his four counterparts.

President Assoumani, who currently leads the 55-nation African Union, came to power in a 1999 coup. He was elected president in 2002 and served only one term. He returned to the presidency in a 2016 election and won again in 2019 with 60% of the vote, more than the 50% required to avoid a runoff.

His government has since been accused of becoming increasingly authoritarian, as well as of suppressing dissent, which Assoumani has denied repeatedly.

Assoumani extended presidential term limits in 2018, abolishing a requirement for the presidency to rotate between the country’s three main islands of Grand Comore, Anjouan, and Moheli every five years. The move sparked widespread protests and an armed uprising by rebels in Anjouan, which the army defeated after days of fighting. Protests have been regularly prohibited since then.

Since its independence from France in 1975, the Comoros has experienced a series of coups. If Assoumani is declared the winner of last week’s polls, he will serve as president of the former French colony for a five-year term ending in 2029.

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