Comoros' Finance Head Leads Short-List for Presidential Election

Comoros’ vice president in charge of finance is among three candidates for the presidency of the Indian Ocean archipelago, according to provisional results for the first round of elections.

Mohamed Ali Soilihi received 17.6 percent of ballots in Sunday’s vote on Grande Comore island, with local governor Mouigni Said Baraka Soilihi in second place with 15.1 percent, the head of the electoral commission, Ahmed Djaza, told reporters late Tuesday in the capital, Moroni.

Azali Assoumani, who as army chief of staff took power in a 1999 coup before winning elections in 2002 and ruling for another four years, came third with about 15 percent. About three-quarters of registered voters cast a ballot.

The three candidates will now 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 Comoros’ three semi-autonomous landmasses.

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.