Comoros presidential election highlights sharp political divisions and growing violence

Comoros presidential election highlights sharp political divisions and growing violence

The small archipelago republic of Comoros will hold a presidential election today, as the coup-prone nation seeks to bolster economic

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Photo: Reuters

The small archipelago republic of Comoros will hold a presidential election today, as the coup-prone nation seeks to bolster economic growth and political stability.

Efforts by incumbent President Azali Assoumani to restrict several opposition candidates from running has overshadowed the lead up to the vote. He will face nine other pre-approved candidates in the first round of voting today, but none are expected to clinch the 50% threshold required to avoid a second-round runoff. Vice President Mohamed Ali Soilihi is Assoumani’s biggest competitor, but has already raised concerns about vote rigging, making it unlikely that the vote outcome will result in a peaceful transition.

The election is the first since a controversial 2018 referendum—which was also marred by allegations of vote rigging—scrapped term limits and the requirement that the presidency rotate between the country’s three islands. Mr Assoumani has prioritised boosting agricultural exports, attracting tourism investment and lifting growth below its low-level of 2.4%. Expect Assoumani to garner the largest share of the first-round. However, accusations of an illegitimate election would severely impact internal stability, increasing chances of a return to domestic conflict and greatly diminishing chances of higher long-term growth and investment.

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