Former coup leader elected president of Comoros – provisional results

MRAMANI, Comoros – Former coup leader Azali Assoumani was elected president of Comoros on Thursday, May 12, according to official provisional results, after an earlier poll had to be partially re-run due to violence and "irregularities".

Colonel Assoumani beat Vice President Mohamed Ali Soilihi to lead the east African archipelago nation in April, but a court ordered that 13 polling stations should vote again after accusations of ballot stuffing, broken boxes and interruptions in voting.

He won again by 2,271 votes to 1,308, the electoral commission said, increasing the lead he took last month.

Two percent of the electorate needed to vote again Wednesday, with hundreds of people waiting in line during the day as armed security forces stood guard to ensure polling was smooth.

"We did not vote last time but today the military are protecting me and my blind husband," Boueni Aboudou told the Agence France-Presse.

The army deployed 200 soldiers in Anjouan, one of three main Comoros islands, according to the country's Chief of Staff Youssouf Idjihadi.

In Mramani in the south, where voting had to be discontinued last month after a crush of voters, as many as 100 armed soldiers stood guard outside 5 polling stations located in a school, according to an AFP journalist.

Polls closed at 1500 GMT and voting passed off without any major incidents, according to an AFP journalist.

The colonel's inauguration is scheduled for May 26.

Assoumani took 40.98% of the nationwide vote in April, just ahead of Vice President Mohamed Ali Soilihi, the ruling party's presidential candidate, who picked up 39.87 percent.

Soilihi, who is known as Mamadou, said he rejected the earlier result.

Assoumani first came to power in 1999 after ousting acting president Tadjidine Ben Said Massounde in a coup.

He then won the presidential election three years later, stepping down when his term ended in 2006.

"I expect concrete benefits for my vote: a decent price for cloves, work for my children and food at affordable prices," said Idrissa Ahmada, a farmer and father of nine before polls closed.

The three islands that make up the Comoros – Anjouan, Grande-Comore and Moheli – have a total population of just under 800,000 people, nearly all of whom are Sunni Muslims.

The fourth island of Mayotte voted against independence and is still governed by France.

Comoros' electoral system was established in 2001 after about 20 coups or attempted takeovers, 4 of which were successful, in the years following independence from France in 1975.

Assoumani is set to take over from outgoing President Ikililou Dhoinine, who completed his 5-year term in office.

Comoros exports vanilla, cloves and ylang-ylang perfume essence, but poverty is widespread. – Aboubacar M'changama, AFP/