Comoros Elections: President Assoumani seeks fourth term

In Comoros, President Azali Assoumani is largely expected to win. Some opposition leaders denounced the election commision.

Voters in Comoros took to the polls on Sunday in an election widely anticipated to secure a fourth consecutive five-year term for President Azali Assoumani. The electoral landscape featured five opponents challenging the incumbent, though some opposition leaders opted for a boycott, alleging bias on the part of the election commission.

The electoral process commenced at 8 a.m. (0500 GMT) across the Indian Ocean archipelago, with 338,940 registered voters out of its 800,000 population exercising their democratic rights. The voting period concluded at 6 p.m.

Comoros, since gaining independence from France in 1975, has grappled with approximately 20 coups or attempted coups, earning it a reputation as a major source of irregular migration to the nearby French territory of Mayotte.

Certain opposition figures called for a boycott, contending that the election commission displayed favoritism toward the ruling party. In response, the commission refuted these claims, asserting that the electoral process would remain transparent.

President Assoumani, who initially seized power in a coup in 1999, expressed satisfaction with the democratic engagement in the country. Speaking to reporters after casting his vote in Mitsoudjé, his hometown, he voiced optimism about securing victory in the first round. Notably, Assoumani has won three previous elections and served as the chair of the African Union for the past year.

In the 2019 election, Assoumani secured a decisive victory with 60% of the vote, surpassing the 50% threshold required to avoid a runoff. Critics, however, contend that his administration has since stifled dissent, an allegation vehemently denied by the government.

Assoumani’s challengers include a former interior minister and Salim Issa, a medical doctor representing Juwa, the party of former president Ahmed Abdallah Sambi. Issa, from Foumbouni in the south of Comoros, conveyed optimism on social media about the peaceful conduct of the vote.

Sambi, currently incarcerated after a 2022 conviction for high treason related to corruption charges, has seen political protests repeatedly banned for security reasons.

In June 2018, Comoros amended its constitution, eliminating the stipulation that the presidency rotate among its three main islands every five years. This alteration allowed Assoumani to pursue reelection.

Opposition leaders advocating for a boycott and their supporters demanded the exclusion of the armed forces from electoral processes and the unconditional release of Sambi and other political detainees.

Provisional results are anticipated on Friday, as indicated by the election commission.

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