Observers Declare Comoros Legislative Election Free, Transparent

International observers monitoring the second round of legislative elections in the Indian Ocean island nation of Comoros declared the vote free and transparent.

Voting held on Sunday on the archipelago took place in an atmosphere of “transparency, freedom and serenity,” Samuel Azu’u Fonkam, head of the observer mission sent by the International Francophonie Organization, told reporters in the capital, Moroni. Municipal elections took place alongside the vote for legislators.

“The Francophonie mission commends the Comorian authorities responsible for organizing elections,” Fonkam said. “It particularly welcomes the efforts of the Independent National Electoral Commission to strengthen free, transparent and reliable elections.”

The Comoros, with a $911 million economy, has had more than 20 coups or attempts at seizing power since it gained independence from France in 1975, according to the Central Intelligence Agency. It’s one of the world’s biggest producers of ylang ylang, an essence used in perfumes, the International Federation of Essential Oils and Aroma Trades says on its website.

This week’s election pitted President Ikililou Dhoinine’s ruling Union Pour le Developpement des Comores against the Juwa Party of former President Ahmed Abdallah Sambi, who has advocated closer ties with the Muslim world, Agence France-Presse reported on Feb. 22. The vote is being seen as a test of Sambi’s popularity ahead of presidential elections scheduled for 2016, it said.

Provisional results of the elections are expected to be published Wednesday by the country’s electoral commission, while the Constitutional Court will declare final results by next week. Observer missions deployed by the African Union and the Arab League also described this week’s election as free and peaceful.

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