Comoros votes in parliamentary poll boycotted by opposition

Opposition parties said they would not contest 24 national assembly seats after failing to obtain election guarantees.

Comoros'' President Azali Assouman casts his vote
President Azali Assouman (L) urged the opposition parties to drop the boycott threat in the run-up to the vote [Ibrahim Youssouf/AFP]

Voters in Comoros are casting their ballots in the first round of a parliamentary election boycotted by opposition parties.

Most voting stations in the Indian Ocean archipelago’s capital, Moroni, opened later than scheduled on Sunday because of bad weather, AFP news agency reported.

Opposition parties said they would not contest the 24 seats in the Comoros national assembly after failing to obtain guarantees of a “transparent, free and democratic” election.

President Azali Assoumani secured a second consecutive term in March 2019, but critics alleged vote rigging and witnesses said ballot boxes were stuffed, the latest scandal in a country blighted by instability and coups.

The president, who has denied the allegations, had urged the opposition to drop the boycott threat in the run-up to the vote, saying in November that “my most ardent wish is that they come to participate in these elections because we have a lot to do”.

Among the opposition’s requests has been that the country’s diaspora of roughly 300,000 should be allowed to vote, a demand Azali’s camp said would be impossible to meet.

While the absence of official opposition candidates made for a low-key election campaign, tensions appeared within the ruling coalition this week.

Azali’s governing party, the CRC, has accused the Orange party of Interior Minister Mohamed Daoudou of insufficient support for their coalition.

First-round results are expected late on Sunday.

Source: AFP