Comoros announce March elections as fears for authoritarianism rise

Comoros announce March elections as fears for authoritarianism rise
2 min read
25 December, 2018
A presidential decree on Monday stated that elections are set to take place in March.
Azali Assoumani is being condemned for his heavy-handedness in dealing with opposition [Getty]

Elections in Comoros will take place in March, said a presidential decree published on Monday, as fears of growing authoritarianism is growing in the country.

Voters will choose the president of the union, a role that had rotated among the three islands of Grande Comore, Anjouan and Moheli, and the governors of each island.

The decree sets presidential and regional elections for March 24 and a second round on April 21 if no clear winner emerges.

Political tensions have been running high since July when President Azali Assoumani won a referendum critics say allowed him to consolidate his power and to serve another mandate.

The referendum halted the rotation of the presidency among the three main islands, effectively punishing opposition-leaning Anjouan that had been next in line.

That result triggered violent protests, and in October an armed rebellion erupted in Anjouan island's capital Mutsamudu.

Earlier this month, four senior opposition leaders were handed life sentences with hard labour by a security court for allegedly plotting against the state.

Several other opposition figures were also jailed for plotting against the state following a two-day trial. 

The sentences were condemned by the opposition as "an insult to democracy".

Comoros islands have struggled with years of political turmoil, including more than 20 coups or attempted coups since independence from France in 1975.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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