#AfricanLeaders: Malawi
July 6, 2016
#GetToKnow : South Sudan
July 8, 2016

#AfricanLeaders: Comoros

Azali Assoumani, born on the 1st January 1959 (57 years of age) is the current President of an archipelago of volcanic islands that make up the nation of the Comoros. He assumed office on the 26th May 2016, succeeding outgoing President Ikililou Dhoinine in a court ordered election. This was due to the fact that Azali Assoumani won the first run-off vote by just 2,100 votes, according to provisional results, but a court ordered 13 polling stations on Anjouan – one of the nation’s three islands – to vote again due to irregularities; “broken ballot boxes, interruptions in voting, accusations of ballot stuffing and some incidents of violence.” 1 It was after the second-round of voting that Assoumani took 40.98 percent of the nationwide vote ahead of Vice President Mohamed Ali Soilihi – the ruling party’s presidential candidate – who secured 39.87 percent of the votes. 2 Following his swearing in, Assoumani promised a better Comoros for all; “the best solution is to develop the country for the interest of the whole region – that explains why we are fully engaged in the socio-economic development of the country.” 3

As per the new constitution approved in a 2001 referendum, the presidency has to rotate every four years between the nation’s three islands; Grande Comore, Anjouan and Mohéli. Thus, every four years the recognition of presidential candidates is limited to a particular island, and when a candidate is selected, they are bestowed power over the entire nation. As a result, the 2016 elections saw presidential candidacy limited to Grande Comore residents, resulting in Assoumani’s success as an inhabitant of south-western Grande Comore.

 Assoumani had however previously been the president of the archipelago from the year 1999 to 2002, after coming into power through a coup. He was again deemed the archipelago’s president after winning the 2002 presidential elections. He won in a climate wherein one of the top three candidates within island, the other two election candidates boycotted the national voting rounds, leaving him as the remaining presidential candidate.4 At the end of his term in 2006, he voluntarily stepped down and democratically handed over the seat of power to Ahmed Abdallah Sambi.

The Convention for the Renewal of the Comoros (CRC), is a centrist political party in the Comoros. It was established in September 2002, by members of the Movement for Socialism and Democracy (MSD) a political party present prior to the 1999 coup – CRC is thus the ruling party of the Comoros, with Assoumani as its leader. Currently, the island only possesses two political parties; CRC and the opposition Camp of the Autonomous Islands; a political alliance inclusive of five other political parties.

Between the years 1977 and 1980, Assoumani trained at the Royal Military Academy in Morocco and qualified as a parachutist. He thus pursued a military career for two decades, and in 1996, undertook further training at a French military academy, where he was promoted to colonel and chief of staff of the new National Army of Development (NAD).  He retained that position prior to overthrowing the civilian government in 1999.

                       Independence Year                                  1975
                             President                         Azali Assoumani
                           Government                           Federal Republic
                            Capital City                                Moroni
                            GDP (2016)                           $623, 8 million5
                        Population (2016)                               773, 0006
                              Religion                                 Islam
                         Major language(s)   Arabic, French, Comoran (a blend of Swahili and Arabic)
                              Currency                            Comoran franc
                        Life Expectancy                         60 (men) 63 (women)7