Comoros President sworn in for Fourth Term after disputed poll

Comoros President sworn in for Fourth Term after disputed poll

MORONI, May 27 (NNN-ALLAFRICA) — Comoros President Azali Assoumani has pledged to work for peace and rapidly grow the economy as he was sworn in for his fourth term in office, following a tense January election which his opponents claim was tainted by voter fraud.

One person was killed and at least 25 injured in violent protests that erupted in the country, a group of three islands off the coast of Mozambique, after the election body declared him re-elected to another five-year term with 63 percent of the vote.

Comoros, with a population of about 800,000, has experienced around 20 coups or attempted coups since winning independence from France in 1975 and is a major source of irregular migration to the nearby French island of Mayotte.

Opposition leaders claimed the latest presidential poll was rigged, alleging instances of ballot stuffing and of voting being ended before the official closing time. The government denied the claims.

“Disputes after the elections are not a Commorian exception. I thank the Commorians for the renewed trust, I will not disappoint you,” Assoumani said on Sunday at a ceremony in a stadium in the capital Moroni.

“After this inauguration, I invite civil society, the opposition and all political actors to put aside differences in favour of peace and democracy,” said the former army officer, adding he would grow the economy at 5 percent per year.

Security was tight in the capital Moroni ahead of the ceremony, attended by the presidents of Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Madagascar, Mozambique and Congo. Tanzania and Burundi were represented by their vice-presidents; France by its Minister Delegate for Parliamentary Relations.

Assoumani first came to power through a coup in 1999. He stepped down after one term but reclaimed the presidency in an election in 2016.

In 2018 he changed the constitution to allow himself to run for a fourth term, a move that triggered widespread protests and a rebel uprising on one of the archipelago’s three main islands.

The army put down the fighting and protests have been regularly banned since then.

Since Assoumani was re-elected in 2019, observers say he has become increasingly authoritarian.

“Assoumani’s latest term has been marked by crackdowns on dissent and curtailments of press freedoms,” according to the US-based Africa Center for Strategic Studies, which describes the intimidation of journalists and detention of opposition figures. — NNN-ALLAFRICA


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