Voters went to the polls Sunday in the chronically unstable Indian Ocean archipelago of the Comoros in a parliamentary election seen as a test for former leader Abdallah Sambi, a Muslim populist poised to make a comeback. The vote, which was reported to be peaceful, is the first in a cycle of legislative and local government polls culminating in 2016 presidential elections. “Turnout has been very high, above 60 percent,” the Interior Minister told AFP before midnight local time (2100 GMT). “The emerging indications show Juwa (Sambi’s party) in the lead.” Ismael Saadi, the head of the election monitor in the Comoros, said voter participation had reached 60 to 70 percent. Polling booths opened at 7:00 am (0400 GMT), with voting slow off the mark in the capital, Moroni, but with long queues snaking through small villages elsewhere.
Finance Minister and Vice President Mohamed Ali Soilihi, speaking as he cast his vote, told reporters the results would shape the political landscape over coming months and be a “barmometer” of opinion ahead of next year’s polls. “If we have a hostile majority to the executive’s policies we will struggle to serve out our mandate in normal conditions,” he said.
Official results, however, were not expected before Tuesday or Wednesday.