afrol News, 21 May - Abdou Soulé El'bak was yesterday confirmed as the winner of the first presidential elections of Grande Comore, the biggest of the three islands constituting the new Comoro Union. After a series of polls in the archipelago, El'bak is the first opposition candidate to win.
Results announced by Interior Minister Assoumani Aboudoussalam showed opposition candidate El'bak had received 63 percent of the vote while the government candidate, Governor Bakari Abdallah Boina, had only gotten 37 percent. The poll noted a high turnout of 72 percent. Independent observers maintained that the election had been free and fair; contrary to last months presidential poll in the Comoro Union.
El'bak had taken a lead already in the first poll round (17.1 percent), where a total of 17 candidates run for the Grande Comore presidency. Outgoing governor Boina - although he got the outspoken support of military leader President Azali Assoumani - had only gotten 14.6 percent in the first round; but still enough to contest a second time on Sunday.
Abdou Soulé El'bak was the official candidate of the Comoro Party for Democracy and Progress (PDCP) from the opposition. He was backed by the majority of other opposition candidates that were defeated in the first round. In fact, Sunday's election has been the first opposition victory in the row of referendums and elections held on the islands this year, several marred by irregularities.
On 9 May, a newly appointed "Election Ratification Commission" had recognised Colonel Azali Assoumani as the winner of last month's Comoro Union presidential election. The Comoro election commission earlier had declared the elections null and void and opposition candidates refuse to recognise the confirmation of Assoumani. The former military strongman has however been recognised internationally.
Sunday's elections in Grande Comore were the last in a row of polls where the Indian Ocean archipelago was to transfer itself into a new Comoro Union, based on democracy and autonomous rule in the three islands Grande Comore, Anjouan and Moheli. The creation of the Comoro Union came after years of political trouble as Anjouan unilaterally had declared independence and Colonel Assoumani took power in Grande Comore in a military coup in 1999. Assoumani only stepped down in January this year to be eligible in the April presidential poll.
After the flawed 14 April elections, observers see El'bak's election as a battle won in the establishment of new institutions in the Comoros "even though previous ballots were fraught with controversy," as quoted by PANA. The Grande Comore vote internationally is observe red as the last step in returning stability to the Comoros.
After the approbation of three autonomous island constitutions and one union constitution in referendums and presidential elections in Grande Comore, Anjouan, Moheli and the Comoro Union, half a year of continuous polls have now come to an end. It remains to be seen if the new and complex state construction of Comoros - which has suffered over 20 coups and coup attempts since independence in 1975 - will bring stability to the small archipelago of 600,000 inhabitants.
Sources: Based on Kemal press reports, UN sources and afrol archives