Voters in the Comoros went to the polls on Monday in a politically explosive referendum that could change the constitution and allow President Azali Assoumani to rule beyond 2021, his current term limit. Voters were scarce at several polling stations in the capital Moroni as the day began, AFP reporters witnessed. Burdened by a long history of turbulence, the Indian Ocean archipelago risks renewed unrest after Assoumani banned demonstrations and the opposition vowed to fiercely resist the proposed changes. Opposition lawmakers had demanded an “unconditional halt without delay to the arbitrary and illegal process” of the referendum, which they said they would boycott.
Ahmed el-Barwane, secretary general of the opposition Juwa party, accused the president of wanting to “craft a constitution which is tailor-made for him to do as he pleases”.
But Interior Minister Mohamed Daoudou had dismissed the opposition’s concerns, saying the referendum would go ahead with about 300 000 registered voters.