Voters in the East African island nation of Comoros will go to the polls in a presidential election on Sunday, amid questions regarding its fairness.
Incumbent President Azali Assoumani, seeking a fourth term after making controversial constitutional changes to remove term limits, faces five challengers amid a tide of discontent from opposition figures who question the legitimacy of the process.
Assoumani, 64, a former military officer who first came to power in a 1999 coup, has served two non-consecutive terms as president, from 2002 to 2006 and from 2016 to the present.
Analysts say the 2018 constitutional referendum that cleared the way for his possible re-election was deeply divisive, with others accusing him of undermining the power-sharing agreement that ensured rotating presidencies among the Comoros’ three main islands.
Opposition candidates have raised serious concerns about the transparency of the upcoming vote, citing alleged bias in the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) and irregularities in voter registration.
Some opposition leaders in the predominantly Muslim island nation of Comoros have even called for a boycott, claiming that the conditions for a free and fair election are not met.
This week, Mohamed Ali Soilihi, a prominent opposition figure, told reporters that there had been credible reports of intimidation and manipulation of the voter registry.
Despite the controversy, the electoral commission insists that the election will be transparent and credible.
Tensions are rising in the Comoros ahead of the election, with Assoumani under fire for alleged politically motivated prosecutions. However, the president vehemently denied the allegations, claiming that the upcoming elections will go ahead as planned.
According to the election commission, nearly 340,000 registered voters will cast their ballots at over 736 polling stations, but the turnout may be affected by boycott calls.