Voters in Comoros overwhelmingly backed controversial constitutional reforms that would allow President Azali Assoumani to run for another term, an electoral official said Monday, following a referendum boycotted by the opposition. The Indian Ocean archipelago has a long history of instability and risks renewed unrest after Assoumani banned demonstrations and the opposition called Monday’s vote “illegal”. “I’ll give you the national results… ‘Yes,’ 172,240 votes, which is 92.74 percent. ‘No,’ 13,338 votes, which is 7.26 percent,” the president of the Comoros National Electoral Commission (CENI), Ahmed Mohamed Djaza, told a briefing in the capital Moroni. Turnout was 63.9 percent, he added.
The poll was held to a backdrop of rising tensions, suggestions of ballot stuffing, and voting was interrupted by at least one violent incident.
“In the majority of polling stations visited there were fewer than 20 voters waiting to cast their ballots,” Jules Hoareau, part of the Eastern Africa Standby Force observer mission, told AFP. “But when we returned we observed a sudden flood of voting papers in the ballot box. That doesn’t make any sense.”
Unidentified assailants attacked the Hankounou polling station in Moroni with a knife, destroying two ballot boxes and hospitalising a policeman.