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Anjouan island votes for new president

Latest update : 2008-06-15

Residents in the Comoros island of Anjouan voted on Sunday to elect a new president, three months after an African Union-backed military force ousted rebel leader Mohamed Bacar.

The Comoros isle of Anjouan went to the polls on Sunday to elect a new president, three months after rebel leader Mohamed Bacar was ousted by an African Union-backed military force.
  
Voters from an electorate of almost 128,000 eligible adults -- just under half the population -- cast ballots in 240 polling stations to pick a new president from five candidates.
  
Voting was due to start at 7:00 am (0400 GMT) but began an hour late in the capital Mutsamudu and the second town of Domoni as either ballot papers arrived late or election officials failed to show up on time.
  
"We came by several times since four in the morning but neither the supervisors nor the presiding officers of the polling stations were here," said Kassim Houmadi, a member of the island's electoral commission.
  
AU soldiers supervised the polls, and officials reported calm across the island.
  
But chief election observer Mhoussini Abdoulhad told AFP: "I can confirm that participation levels are feeble.
  
"We must not forget that the Anjouan population has been traumatised by the former regime," he added.
  
But according to one voter, a local shopkeeper, islanders had lost hope.
  
"Our leaders only think of themselves," said Nassur Allaoui. "We don't have any rice, no fuel, no more fish (due to fuel shortages for boats). Why bother voting in such conditions?"
  
Most polling stations in the capital Mutsamudu and other towns of Ouani and Mirontsi were closed after 6:00 pm (1500 GMT), with counting having begun.
  
Provisional results could be released Monday, although fuel shortages and electricity blackouts -- which also affected campaigning -- may delay the process.
  
The constitutional court has 72 hours in which to compile definitive results.
  
All the candidates stressed the need for reconciliation following Bacar's ousting in March.
  
The ballot was a first step towards "healing the island's many wounds," said candidate Moussa Toybou during a campaign meeting Wednesday.
  
A second round of voting is scheduled for June 29 on Anjouan, the poorest and the most populous in the Indian Ocean archipelago.
  
The Comoros has been plagued by political instability since winning independence from France in 1975 with some 19 coups or attempted coups.
  
Comoran and AU forces invaded Anjouan in March after Bacar refused to step down. He held elections last year, which were declared illegal by the AU and the Comoran federal government.
  
Bacar and his followers fled to the French island of Reunion where a court of appeal gave him a three-month suspended jail term after finding him guilty of importing weapons.
  
The Comoros consists of the islands of Grande Comore, Anjouan and Moheli, each governed by a local president and parliament, with the federal presidency rotating between them.

Date created : 2008-06-15

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