Comoros Islands Begin Counting Ballots After Presidential Vote

Comoros began counting ballots for its first round of presidential elections as authorities hailed an incident-free vote on the Indian Ocean archipelago that’s been hit by slowing economic growth.

The island of Grande Comore voted Sunday on possible successors to President Ikililou Dhoinine. Provisional results are due Wednesday, with the three leading candidates then set to compete April 10 in a second round open to the electorate nationwide. That’s in line with a constitutional provision that rotates the federal presidency between the nation’s three semi-autonomous landmasses.

“The elections were held in good conditions, with no major incidents,” said Mohamed el-Had Abbas, the minister in charge of the vote. Polling was delayed at some stations, he said, while one Grande Comoros community boycotted in protest at the poor condition of its roads.

The country of 770,000 people with a $624 million economy has had more than 20 coups or attempts at seizing power since it gained independence from France in 1975. The International Monetary Fund estimated growth at 1 percent last year, saying a shortage of electricity and sluggish enactment of a public investment program impacted the economy. All the Comoros islands also held gubernatorial elections on Sunday.

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