Comoros: Opposition Fears Suppression, Presidential Vote Tampering 

President of Comoros, Azali Assoumani

Comoros, March 21, 2019//- On the eve of the controversial Presidential elections in the coup-prone Comoros this weekend, the Union of Opposition Alliance has expressed fears that its members will be suppressed.

The group which is committed to put up a brave fight with a united front against the incumbent President and deploy surveillance committees to oversee the balloting in their neighbourhood areas, also feared that presidential poll will be tampered.

The Union of Opposition Alliance is fielding 12 candidates to fight against Azali in the first round of the presidential elections scheduled for March 24, said in a press statement.

If no candidate garners more than 50 per cent of the vote, a second round will take place in April.

President Azali Assoumani is running for a second consecutive term after he won a controversial referendum in July that extended term limits and abolished the system of rotating power between the three main islands.

Since the referendum and the announcement of the elections, opposition party leaders, media persons and human rights activists have been arrested or forced to leave the country.
Azali’s chief rivals – former vice-president Mohamed Ali Soilihi and Ibrahim Mohamed Soule – saw their bids for the top job quashed by the Supreme Court, which is composed exclusively of Azali’s allies.

Key opposition candidates supported by parties that could block Azali have been meticulously eliminated.
Because of the prevalent climate of fear and suppression in the islands, all opposition candidates have joined hands and at a meeting attended by over 20,000 supporters in Moroni, they swore to back the opposition candidate who will make it to the second round against Azali.

“They have signed a pledge to ask the international community to safeguard the elections. They have adopted as slogan: “All except Azali”. Their determination is rock solid, “ said, Adinani Youssouf, human rights activist and opposition alliance supporter. 

Despite government’s authoritarian rulings, and the military setting up roadblocks to prevent people from attending political rallies, they are gathering to show their support to the Opposition candidates.

“Even though the government of Azali uses all kinds of subterfuges to prevent the opposition from meeting, their gatherings, especially those of the candidates of the JUWA party Maitre Mahamoud Ahamada draw tens of thousands of people each time.

At Mutsamudu (hometown of former President Ahmed Abdallah Mohamed Sambi) in Anjouan recently, over 30,000 people gathered to support him,”Youssouf  revealed.

To fight back and prevent vote tampering, the opposition is setting up surveillance committees in all neighbourhoods and their respective polling stations. “The committee will monitor voting operations and processes at polling stations in their neighbourhoods.

They will collect evidence by taking photos and update the results centrally, which will then be shared with the public.”

Youssou, warned:“The Opposition will not be denied its victory and is ready to bring people out in the streets if Azali does not play by the rules.”

Meanwhile, multilateral organisations including African Union and SADC have confirmed that they are sending election observer teams.
“The African Union is attentive and is monitoring and, is applying the preventive diplomacy process with other actors. I was in New York recently, and we also had discussions with the United Nations.

We are also having discussion with the International Organization of the Francophonie, and we’re looking into engaging  SADC so that together we can be on the same page to ensure that we are not heading for a crisis. That is where we stand regarding the elections,” said Ambassador Minata Samate Cessouma, AU Commissioner, Department of Political Affairs.

African Eye Report

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