Presidential election in the Comoros: Moroni under tension the day after Azali Assoumani’s victory

Tear gas shots, blocked roads, the main market deserted: the tension is palpable on Wednesday January 17 in Moroni, the capital of the Comoros, the day after the announcement of the victory, in the first round of the presidential election, of the outgoing Azali Assoumani, contested by the opposition

Presidential election in the Comoros: Moroni under tension the day after Azali Assoumani’s victory

Tear gas shots, blocked roads, the main market deserted: the tension is palpable on Wednesday January 17 in Moroni, the capital of the Comoros, the day after the announcement of the victory, in the first round of the presidential election, of the outgoing Azali Assoumani, contested by the opposition.

In Moroni, police, gendarmes and armed soldiers are deployed in large numbers. Residents set up makeshift roadblocks made of pieces of bitumen, tires and even household appliances, AFP journalists noted. Here and there, soldiers take care of clearing the roads or try to hire passers-by: “Hey you, take this off me quickly,” orders a man in fatigues to a local resident.

The police regularly use tear gas, encouraging the population to desert the streets. In the alleys of the popular district of Coulée (north), groups of young people threw stones in the direction of the police.

“Fraud”, “ballot stuffing”

" Everybody is gone. I was leaving too, I was sprayed with tear gas,” Amina, a seller at the large Volo-Volo market, told AFP. The usually bustling place is deserted, the wooden stalls left empty. In this school in the capital, staff and students remain cloistered: “We are blocked inside the school, they are shooting tear gas,” specifies Abdereman Ben Said Ali, who works in the establishment and speaks of shocked students .

The government spokesperson denounced to the AFP the unrest which was not "spontaneous": "It is organized by those who do not accept defeat", affirmed Houmed Msaidie, adding that arrests were made. place, without specifying the number. The day before, he had warned: “They have been defeated. (…) Don’t let them try to be angry, we won’t let it happen. »

Some 340,000 voters from the Indian Ocean archipelago were called to go to the polls on Sunday, for a vote which recorded an exceptionally low turnout of 16.30% for the presidential election, according to the electoral commission.

Outgoing President Azali Assoumani, a 65-year-old former military coup leader, won 62.97% of the vote, according to provisional results announced Tuesday evening by the electoral commission. This third consecutive term should therefore keep him in power until 2029.

The opposition strongly denounced “fraud” and “ballot stuffing”. The results must still be validated by the Supreme Court, the highest court in the poor country of 870,000 inhabitants, made up of the islands of Grande Comore, Anjouan and Mohéli.