Comoros president cleared to seek re-election

By Abdou Moustoifa

MORONI (Reuters) – Comoros’ Supreme Court on Thursday approved plans by incumbent President Azali Assoumani to run for another term in a poll some opponents are threatening to boycott if certain conditions, such as the release of political prisoners, are not met.

The Indian Ocean archipelago country of 800,000 people last held its presidential elections in 2019 and Assoumani was declared the winner for a five-year term, amid protests from the opposition which alleged irregularities, including barring of independent monitors and pre-ticking ballots.

In the next poll due on January 14, he will be up against nine opponents, according to a list released by the Supreme Court, which approves candidates.

The opponents include a former interior minister and Salim Issa, a medical doctor and flagbearer for Juwa, the party of ex-president Ahmed Abdallah Sambi who was in 2022 sentenced to life imprisonment for “high treason.”

Assoumani, a former army officer, first came to power in a coup in 1999. He has since won three elections.

Some opposition supporters and leaders have vowed to boycott the poll because the electoral process lacks transparency and have demanded authorities unconditionally release former leader Sambi and all other political prisoners.

The opposition also wants the government to reconstitute the electoral body to guarantee its independence and to bar armed forces from involvement in the electoral process.

(Editing by Elias Biryabarema and Sharon Singleton)