afrol News, 16 June - Comoros President Ahmed Abdallah Sambi today signed an African Union-brokered deal, allowing him to stay on power as "interim president" until November. Then, late elections are to be held.
According to a statement by the Comoran Union presidency, the agreement that ends the archipelago's constitutional crisis was signed in Moroni, the capital, today. An election timetable is key to the agreement.
The agreement was signed by President Sambi, African Union (AU) ambassador Francisco Madeira - who had tried to broker a deal since March - and "the governors of the islands" Grande Comore and Anjouan.
There was first major confusion as the elected governor of the third autonomous island, Moheli, did not show up at the ceremony. It had been the island government of Moheli that led the fight against President Sambi's extension of his presidential term. A Union President elected in Moheli should have take power in Comoros on 26 May, but a controversial referendum gave Mr Sambi an extended term.
While there was no representative from Moheli at the Moroni signing ceremony, both President Sambi and AU representative Madeira could assure they had been in contact with the Moheli governor. The governor had been prevented from leaving Moheli but would put his signature on the agreement tomorrow Thursday, it was said.
According to the new agreement, the electoral campaigns start on 1 October. There will be held late presidential and governor elections on all three islands on 7 November this year. If a second polling round is needed, it will be held on 26 December.
Until a new Union President is elected, Mr Sambi serves as Comoran Interim President. The new Comoran president, who must be from Moheli island, will be sworn in during the second half of January 2011 - half a year later that according to the original election timetable.
The new agreement re-establishes the fragile power balance between the three islands forming the Comoran Union, which at several occasions has been threatened by secessionism. The current power balance was also the result of an AU-brokered peace accord, which in 2001 ended the secession of Anjouan island.
President Sambi, who represents Anjouan island's term at the presidency, provoked the country's constitutional crisis by his decision to extend his term. The presidency organised a referendum over a one-year extension, which was boycotted by the opposition and Mohelian at large.
Moheli authorities have not recognised Mr Sambi as Union President since his original term ended on 26 May. A growing choir of voices on Moheli again talked about secession from the union, but strong efforts from the AU managed to hold negotiations alive since the crisis started.
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