Comoros staggers forward

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Woodlouse

Cote d’Ivoire is capturing headlines for all the wrong reasons, but there is another African nation that finds itself in a tense post-election environment.

Ikililou Dhoinine on Sunday won the second round of presidential elections in the Comoros islands. Dhoinine captured 61 percent of the vote while his main competitor, Mohamed Said Fazul, took 33 percent. Fazul, however, has promised demonstrations against the results, claiming there were instances of ballot box stuffing and intimidation. The government has responded by placing a ban on rallies, which will be in effect until the Constitutional Court officially declares a winner on January 15. So far there are no reports of major violence, which is good, but the whole situation really underscores the difficulty Comoros has had in finding an election and governing system that works for it.

Comoros is an archipelago island nation located off the coast of Mozambique. The country is comprised of three main islands, which have earned the unfortunate reputation of being terribly coup-prone. In fact, they have endured more than 20 such attempts since their independence from France in 1975. In order to prevent such events from happening even more frequently, the islands devised a complex electoral and governing system in 2001, one that consumed four-fifths of the country’s GDP. That’s a pretty big chunk of money, and it led voters to approve a referendum last year, which reduced the islands’ autonomy in an effort to streamline the government and save cash.

The presidency of the Comoros rotates every four years among the country’s three main islands. One island holds the first round among their own, and chooses the three candidates who will compete in the second round. The second round then takes place among the entire country. Given that there are then three candidates, the one who receives the most votes in the second round, even if not an absolute majority, will become president. This election was the first cycle where the island of Moheli chose the candidates in the first round. Despite all of its troubles, Comoros has had peaceful transfers of power in the past, so hopefully this will be resolved without violence.

Posted on December 30, 2010, in Democracy, Elections, Electoral Systems and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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