In a disputed electoral process, Comoros President Azali Assoumani has claimed victory for a fourth term with 63% of the vote, as announced by the electoral body Ceni. However, the opposition, boycotting the poll, decries it as “fraudulent.”
Low Turnout and Opposition Boycott
Turnout was remarkably low at 16%, attributed to an opposition boycott. The opposition alleges instances of ballot stuffing and premature closure of polls in favor of Assoumani, while international observers maintain the overall fairness of the election despite reported irregularities.
Protests Erupt in the Capital
Following the announcement, clashes erupted between security forces and protesters in the capital, Moroni. Demonstrators blocked roads, and the house of a former minister was set ablaze. Opposition candidate Mouigni Baraka Said Soilihi declared, “We cannot talk about results because there was no election.”
Controversial Political Landscape
Azali Assoumani, a former military officer who first seized power in 1999, secured his fourth term after a contentious 2018 referendum abolished term limits. Accusations of imprisoning and exiling opponents have marred his rule, with critics raising concerns about democratic principles.
International Observers and Voter Participation
While international observers acknowledged some irregularities, they maintained that voting was largely free and fair. Out of 330,000 registered voters, only 16% participated, with some opting for the gubernatorial elections held simultaneously.
Assoumani’s Political Journey
Assoumani’s political journey includes a 2006 exit, a comeback with a 2016 presidential win, and his current role as the chairperson of the African Union. His controversial leadership has been marked by periods of military rule and persistent accusations of suppressing political opposition.