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Comoros Election Returns Show Ruling Coalition Headed for Big Win


Preliminary returns from Sunday's elections in the Comoros indicate the president's ruling coalition is heading for a landslide victory that could extend his rule. But some opposition leaders say voting was marked by irregularities.

Official results from elections in the Indian Ocean archipelago will not be known until the Comoros constitutional court reviews them later this week.

But preliminary results indicate that the coalition of President Ahmed Abdallah Sambi is likely to control two-thirds of the seats in parliament.

The coalition won outright two out of parliament's 24 elected seats during the first round of voting two weeks ago. And his coalition will name six out of nine other parliamentarians after winning a majority in local elections on the same day.

Each of Comoros's three islands nominate three members of parliament based on the local elections. And the presidency rotates among the three as part of a power sharing accord.

The parliament is due to vote whether to accept or reject a constitutional referendum in which voters approved a measure to extend Mr. Sambi's four-year term to five years. He is due to step down in May.

The chairman of the mayor's association of Grande Comoros, Mohammed Mchangama told VOA that overall voting was peaceful.

"There have been some minor incidents in the morning when the elections were starting, but it has been in very, very few places," he said.

But opposition leaders accused the government of doing little to prevent fraud and warned the country could plunge into chaos if there were any indications of vote rigging.

International observers said they were pleased with the orderliness of the balloting, but added that they were concerned by what appears to have been a low voter turnout.

Mr. Sambi was elected in 2006 in the first-ever peaceful transfer of power in a country that has experienced 19 coups and coup attempts since independence 34 years ago.

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