Results show big win for Comoros ruling party


President Ahmed Abdallah Sambi’s ruling coalition in Comoros has won an overwhelming majority at legislative elections according to preliminary results, a senior government source said on Monday.

If the tally is confirmed by the volatile Indian Ocean archipelago’s Constitutional Court, the win will help attempts by Sambi to extend his stay in office.

A high level source in the country’s interior ministry told Reuters that initial results with all ballots counted gave Sambi’s ruling “Baobab Tree” coalition 79 percent of the votes.

If confirmed, the coalition’s margin of victory would give it 19 of the 24 available assembly seats.

One opposition leader said the early indications were correct, but that some 60 percent of eligible voters had stayed away from the polls. No official turnout has been published.

“The opposition has won five seats across the three islands,” opposition leader Houmed Msaidie told Reuters.

One of the first tasks facing the new assembly will be to ratify or reject a “yes” vote in an earlier referendum to align federal and local elections and also prolong Sambi’s term.

Sambi took over the presidency – which rotates between the three main islands located between Madagascar and Mozambique – in 2006 in Comoros’ first democratic transition of power since independence from France in 1975.

Sambi, who is regarded by supporters as an Islamic reformer, is due to step down in May under the terms of the constitution. Critics say the referendum was a ploy by him to cling to power.

Local governments on Grande Comore, Anjouan and Moheli islands will name another nine parliamentarians. After winning a majority in local council elections on December 6, Sambi’s coalition will pick six while the opposition will name three.

Local observers said a strong majority in the assembly would ease the passing of a bill endorsing the referendum result. The opposition said recent road building projects and cement handouts might have skewed voter loyalties in certain districts.

“But overall, voting was transparent”, Msaidie added.

The Electoral Commission is due to approve the results later on Monday before sending them over to the Constitutional Court.

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