Gunfire in Comoros as opposition forms parallel government

President Azali Assoumani (Photo Credit: Africanews)
President Azali Assoumani (Photo Credit: )

Gunfire was heard near the main military base in the Comoros capital on Thursday, hours after opposition candidates announced plans to unseat the president, whose re-election this week, they reject as fraudulent.

President Azali Assoumani was declared the winner in Sunday’s election with more than 60 per cent of the vote, enough to avoid a second-round run-off.

Observers from African monitoring missions have said the election lacked credibility.

The 12 opposition candidates said they had set up a body called the National Transition Council, chaired by one of them, Mohamed Soilihi, to remove Assoumani from office.

“The mission of the National Transitional Council is to resolve the post-election crisis, to ensure a peaceful transition, to preserve peace, stability and national cohesion in our country,’’ Soilihi said in a statement.

A diplomatic source said Mr Soilihi was arrested after releasing the statement and the military camp came under attack shortly afterwards.

In Me Soilihi’s statement, the opposition candidates set an April 3 deadline for the vote to be invalidated.

Otherwise, they called for civil disobedience and a general strike from April 4.

Observers from the AU, the Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa and the African Standby Forces of the East said the voting process was riddled with irregularities that led them to conclude it lacked credibility or transparency.

Mr Assoumani on Tuesday said anyone wishing to contest the results should do so via legal means.


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“I hope that those that are contesting the results will follow the legal channels and wait for the final results to be announced by the Supreme Court,’’ he said.

Authorities shut down a local newspaper, La Gazette, for publishing a story about the proposed transition council.

Mr Assoumani triggered months of protests in 2018 by extending term limits allowing him to stand for another consecutive term.

His decision particularly angered natives of the island of Anjouan, who argue that it is their turn to hold the presidency, traditionally rotated among leaders from the three main islands of the Indian Ocean archipelago.

A former army officer, Mr Assoumani has been in and out of office since taking power in a coup in 1999.

He has served as president for 10 of the past 20 years, winning elections in 2002 and 2016.

About 60 women leaders, who had marched to the Supreme Court to deliver a letter asking it not to validate the election results, were dispersed by police. Six of them were arrested.

They carried banners that denounced the heads of the military, the electoral commission and the Supreme Court as being “accomplices of a coup d’etat”. (Reuters/NAN)


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