The official campaign period for the upcoming March 24 presidential and regional elections began on Wednesday, February 20. Current President Azali Assoumani is running for reelection against twelve other candidates. An increase in political rallies is expected in the coming weeks as well as protests by opposition supporters. The Supreme Court has rejected the candidacy of opposition leader Mohamed Ali Soilihi, who was regarded as Assoumani’s main challenger. Some opposition leaders have accused the courts of blocking all party supported candidates who could threaten Assoumani in the election. Heightened security measures and localized traffic disruptions are anticipated around all election related events and protests.
A second round will be held on April 21 if no candidate gains over 50 percent of the vote during the first round. An estimated 92.74 percent of Comorian nationals approved proposed constitutional amendments during a referendum held on July 30, 2018, to hold the next presidential election in 2019 instead of 2021. The referendum amends the constitution to allow for two five-year presidential terms rather than the current limit of a single five-year term. It also does away with the current system where the position rotates every five years between the archipelago's islands of Grande Comore, Anjouan, and Moheli. The amendment also eliminate the three vice presidential positions as well as the Constitutional Court. Islam will also become the state religion.
Tensions were high in the run-up to the referendum, as it was widely regarded as an attempt by President Azali Assoumani to extend his term.
The current presidential term system was designed to promote stability and power-sharing in the coup-prone country. There have been more than 20 coups or coup attempts since the country declared independence from France in 1975.
Individuals in Comoros are advised to keep abreast of the sociopolitical climate and avoid all protests and political rallies as a precaution.
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