afrol News, 11 November - Three candidates for the Comoros Union presidency elections on Sunday have emerged to compete in a second round in December. Ruling party candidate Ikililou Dhoinine received most votes in the first round.
The Independent National Electoral Commission of Comoros (CENI) today announced the provisional results of Sunday's elections. Mr Dhoinine gained 26.97 percent of the votes; Mohamed Said Fazul came in second with 21.65 percent. Bianrifi Tarmidi came in third, receiving 10.90 percent of votes.
According to local and international election observers, the first election round went along in an orderly and well organised way. The poll marks the end of a period with political turmoil in Comoros, starting as outgoing President Ahmed Abdallah Sambi unilaterally declared an extension of his presidential term.
Following decades of political instability due to coups and secessionist movements, the three islands forming the Comoros Union introduced a complicated electoral system, granting each of the islands Gran Comore, Anjouan and Moheli a rotating access to the union presidency.
At this junction, the island of Moheli - the smallest in the union - was set to take over the presidency. Therefore, the first round of the elections was only held on that island's 21,429 voters.
The three leading candidates emerging from the elections on Moheli Island are to meet voters from all the three islands in a run-off poll on 26 December. The one gaining most votes at that occasion - even if not reaching 50 percent - will become the next President of the Comoros Union.
Mr Dhoinine, who gained a narrow lead in the Moheli poll, represents the same political party as outgoing President Sambi, and is seen as the favourite to become Comoros' next President. Mr Dhoinine currently serves
Ahmed Abdallah Sambi, outgoing President of Comoros
However, the opposition was split among seven candidates in Moheli, with Mr Fazul gaining almost as many votes as the ruling party candidate. With only two opposition candidates standing in the run-off, Mr Fazul may have a great chance of uniting opposition votes, which are widely expected to be in a majority in Comoros.
Outgoing President Sambi from Anjouan island, also a Muslim religious leader, managed to deepen the impoverished archipelago's relations with the Arab world, also achieving giant development aid pledges from the Gulf states. During his presidency, the Comoran economy noted significant progress.
President Sambi however also was noted for an authoritarian style, jeopardising the fragile inter-island power-sharing agreement and as such the political stability in Comoros. During his presidency, Union authorities managed to override the autonomous governments of the three islands, transferring powers to the central authority.
His term at the presidency officially ended on 26 March this year, but he extended it for one year through a referendum. The referendum was boycotted on Moheli island, which demanded a Mohelian taking on the presidency, in accordance with the rotation principle.
Massive protests on Moheli, threats of yet another secessionist movement and pressure from the African Union (AU) led to President Sambi backing down. According to the agreement that led to Sunday's election on Moheli, President Sambi is to hand over the Comoran presidency to a Mohelian "no later than the second half of January 2011."
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