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Elections and uncertainty in Comoros

The outcome

It is a tricky task to understand who really won the Union of the Comoros parliamentary elections. The major contenders of this scrutiny the UPDC (pro-government party) and JUWA (pro-Sambi party, ex-President of the Comoros) aimed to a big victory that none was able to confirm, at least without resorting to the traditional network of complex and seemingly fragile alliances. Both rounds of the parliamentary elections had a turnout above 70%: first round (January 25) registered 71% of turnout while the second round (February 22) reached 73,05%.

The provisional results show that UPDC (Union for the Development of the Comoros) conquered eight mandates, followed closely by the JUWA party with seven mandates. The RDC (Democratic Movement of the Comoros) and the CRC (Convention for the Renovation of the Comoros) were able to catch two seats. PEC (Party for the Concord in the Comoros) and RHADI conquered one mandate each. Three mandates were conquered by independent candidates.

The elections were praised by the international observers from both the African Union and from the International Organisation of la Francophonie. The observers praised the normality, transparency and the stability of the overall scrutiny. The positive comments of the international observers might seem an over-statement having into account the accusations of illegal actions played by different parties (during the campaign and the scrutinies) but are perfectly understandable if we have into account the more than twenty coup’s that happened in the archipelago state since 1975.

Reading the defeats or the long road towards consolidated democracy

The parliamentary elections of the Union of the Comoros comprised a series of tests. The first test was to the JUWA party that supports Ahmed Abdallah Mohamed Sambi. The former President of the Comoros (May 2006 – May 2011) is set to attempt a return to politics in the upcoming Presidential elections that will happen in early 2016. The results of the parliamentary elections showed that the Comoros citizens are divided regarding Sambi’s return.

Several experts and citizens claim that Sambi’s pro-Islamic leadership style (during its Presidency relations with muslim countries were favoured) will not work in favour of the Comoran people. If JUWA failed to unite the country, the ruling party UPDC (that favours relations with francophone and western countries) also failed to galvanise the masses despite the economic progress registered in the last few years.

RDC ambitious electoral goals to repeat victories of past parliamentary elections was also met with frustration. The Orange Party was probably the biggest defeated of the elections, with no candidate elected and with the leader detained for disrupting the elections normality. The elections were also marred by exchange of accusations between JUWA officials and UPDC party members.

What the elections showed clearly is that the path towards democratic consolidation in the Union of the Comoros is still long and full of big challenges. The archipelago state that was shaken by more than twenty coups in forty years of independence has still to consolidate the idea of national unity, to modernise the state, to diminish nepotist practices and to understand that elections are only a mechanism of democracy and not democracy in itself.

The Assembly of the Union of the Comoros is a unicameral parliament with 33 seats. 24 mandates are decided by popular vote during the two rounds of the parliamentary elections. The remaining nine mandates will be attributed by the three regional parliaments (regional parliaments are composed according to the results of local elections): Grand Comoros; Anjouan and Moheli.

Each regional parliament has the power to nominate three Island Councillors. The twenty-four Deputies and the nine Islands Councillors have similar functions and the same power in the Assembly of the Union of the Comoros. The different nomenclature is mostly used to distinguish those elected by direct popular vote and those chosen by theirs peers (indirect popular vote).

Source: VotingAid®

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