In the Comoros, President Assoumani accused of blocking his re-election

Candidate for re-election, Comorian President Azali Assoumani will seek a third term on January 14

In the Comoros, President Assoumani accused of blocking his re-election

Candidate for re-election, Comorian President Azali Assoumani will seek a third term on January 14. But since the dismissal of the president of the constitutional and electoral section of the Supreme Court Harimia Ahmed on December 7, the Comorian opposition has denounced a tailor-made election by the head of state. “Assoumani made a serious decision. He has named the one who will judge the election in which he himself is a candidate. “It’s a way of getting hold of the judicial body,” alarms Franco-Comorian opponent Saïd Larifou, leader of the Ridja party.

The government has not provided any justification for the dismissal of the person responsible for ruling on disputes relating to the elections. The head of communications for the presidency of the Union of the Comoros, Ali Amir Ahmed, however defends the legality of the decision: “The appointment of members of the Supreme Court falls within the constitutional competence of the president,” he specifies. . Harimia Ahmed was replaced by Rafiki Mohamed, the deputy general of the Supreme Court.

In this context of suspicion, several opponents accuse the government of wanting to exclude them from the electoral race. At the beginning of December, two candidates from the diaspora were excluded from the presidential election, because they had not stayed permanently in the Comoros for the last twelve months, as required by law.

“The diaspora represents a third of the Comorian electorate. But today, she can neither vote nor run for office freely. We have to make an electoral masquerade,” laments Saïd Ahmed Said Abdillah, the spokesperson for the Shared Common Front, a platform bringing together several opposition parties in the Comoros and France. In September, the Comorian justice system refused to guarantee the right to vote to the diaspora, rejecting an appeal demanding their registration on the electoral lists for the 2024 presidential election.

A tense political context

Out of eleven applications submitted, only six were validated by the Supreme Court on December 2. But the opposition remains divided over its participation. If the Shared Common Front has decided to boycott the election, Bourhane Hamidou, the former president of the National Assembly, and Mouigni Baraka Saïd Soilihi, the former governor of Grande Comore, should be on the starting line.

Since Azali Assoumani came to power in 2016, the political context has gradually become tense. Opposition demonstrations are regularly banned. On May 1, the government prevented the Shared Common Front from holding a demonstration in opposition to the policies led by President Assoumani. “If I return to the Comoros, the regime in power will automatically lock me out,” confides Mchindra Abdallah, president of the Movement of Comorian Democrats (MDC). Based in Paris, the opponent saw his house searched by the authorities in 2018 on the island of Anjouan.

But the opposition is not the only one to pay the price for Azali Assoumani's policies. Four members of his own party, the Convention for the Renewal of the Comoros (CRC), were expelled for presenting or supporting dissident candidacies in the gubernatorial elections. Among them, the chief of staff of the presidency, Omar Mgomri, and the director of Comoros Télécom, Saidali Chayhane.

This internal rebellion comes as the president is suspected of wanting to transfer power to one of his sons, Nour El Fath Azali. Private advisor to his father since 2019, he is now on almost all diplomatic trips. “Our country is run like a family grocery store. The Comorians feel humiliated,” criticizes Mohamed Ali Soilihi, vice-president of the Comoros between 2011 and 2016.

“Mayotte is Comorian”

Another of the president's sons, Loukman Azali, was appointed commander of the Grande Comore gendarmerie group by presidential decree on August 23, 2022. “All of these appointments reinforce the legitimate fear of repression of opponents,” judge Saïd Larifou. After being injured by a rubber bullet during a march in Moroni on March 29, 2019, the opponent now lives in France.

The silence of the international community regarding pre-electoral tensions in the Comoros is severely criticized by the opposition. “Emmanuel Macron’s government is turning a deaf ear,” denounces Mchindra Abdallah, even if relations between Moroni and Paris remain stormy.

During his inauguration speech in May 2019, President Assoumani aroused a wave of anger in Mayotte when he declared, on RFI, that “Mayotte is Comorian, for the international community and for international law too. » He then affirmed that the Comorians in an irregular situation on this island, 101st French department, “are at home! ".

The Mahorais chose to remain within the French fold in 1974, unlike the inhabitants of the other three islands of the archipelago. But this vote is not recognized by the United Nations, which considers that the unity and territorial integrity of the Comoros have not been respected.

Opponents also doubt a possible condemnation coming from the African Union (AU), of which the leader of the Comoros has held the presidency since February 2022. “Azali Assoumani is causing the continental organization to lose all of its credibility and neutrality. because he is using his position to campaign for his re-election,” warns Saïd Larifou. While the two previous elections were held in March-April, the first round of this one was set for January, before Azali Assoumani completes his presidency of the AU.