Thirteen candidates have been cleared for the March presidential vote in the Indian Ocean archipelago of Comoros, the Supreme Court announced Saturday, barring the main challengers of President Azali Assoumani. Nineteen candidates had registered for the March 24 election and of those given the go ahead, only Azali is backed by a party. The others are contesting as independents. Azali, who was voted into office in 2016, is tipped to win the election. His chief rivals were former vice-president Mohamed Ali Soilih and Ibrahim Mohamed Soule, whose bids for the top job were quashed by the Supreme Court, which is composed exclusively of Azali’s allies.
An arrangement to rotate power among the three islands in the archipelago nation helped quell years of discontent and coups in the late 1990s.
The election will take place under the provisions of the constitution modified at Azali’s initiative in a contested referendum held in July 2018.
The reform enables the president to hold two five-year mandates instead of one. If Azali wins, he will be considered as starting a first term, which would allow him to vie for a second in 2024.