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Comorans vote in second round of presidential election

Voting started peacefully in the second round of the presidential election in the Indian Ocean archipelago of Comoros, with voters set to pick one of three candidates hailing from the smallest Comoros isle of Moheli.


AFP - Voting got off to a peaceful start Sunday in the second round of the presidential election in the Indian Ocean archipelago of Comoros.

Polling stations opened on schedule around 8:00 am (0500 GMT) in the capital of the archipelago, Moroni. Some stations were open ahead of the official time, an AFP correspondent said. No incidents had been reported by mid-morning.

But electoral officials reported fewer voters turning out early than in the first round on November 7.

Traffic has been banned for the day in Moroni, with only a handful of officials and journalists allowed to move around by car.

Some 380,000 voters are eligible to choose from among three candidates, all from the smallest Comoros isle of Moheli, in line with a system of rotating presidency after the other islands of Grande Comore and Anjouan produced leaders.

Voters will also choose governors for the three islands.

The election is likely to be a close contest between the ruling party's candidate Ikiliou Dhoinine and opposition rival Mohamed Said Fazul -- a former top Moheli government official. The third candidate is Abdou Djabir Msada.

In the November 7 vote Dhoinine, who is the nation's outgoing vice-president and who has the support of outgoing president Ahmed Abdallah Sambi, emerged in the lead.

Whatever the result of Sunday's vote, it will mean that for the first time since Comoros gained independence from France in 1975 a candidate from Moheli will take over the running of the country.

Geographically, the Comoros archipelago comprises four islands, but the fourth, Mayotte, belongs to France.

The other three, covering 1,870 square kilometres, are home to around 650,000 inhabitants. Moheli spans only 290 square kilometres and has a population of 37,500.

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