The intentions of incumbent President Azali Assoumani to seek reelection in a poll that some opponents are threatening to boycott if specific demands, such as the release of political prisoners, are not satisfied were allowed by the Supreme Court of Comoros on Thursday.
The 800,000-person nation in the Indian Ocean archipelago had its most recent presidential election in 2019, and Assoumani was proclaimed the victor for a five-year term. The opposition, however, protested, claiming anomalies such as excluding impartial monitors and pre-ticking of votes.
He will face nine opponents in the upcoming election, scheduled for January 14, based on a list made public by the Supreme Court, which certifies candidates.
Among the opponents is Salim Issa, a physician and flagbearer for Juwa, the political party of former president Ahmed Abdallah Sambi, who was sentenced to life in prison in 2022 for “high treason.” Another opponent is a former interior minister.
In 1999, Assoumani, a former army colonel, was initially brought to power by a coup. Since then, he has won three elections.
Due to the opaque electoral process, some opposition leaders and supporters have promised to abstain from voting. They have also requested that previous leader Sambi and all other political prisoners be released without conditions.
To preserve the electoral body’s independence and prevent the military from interfering in the process, the opposition also demands that the government restructure the electoral body.