Hope Kivengere

The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), already deployed a pre-election observation mission to the Union of Comoros ahead of the presidential elections set for March 24, 2019 where 13 candidates have been cleared by the country’s Supreme Court to run against the incumbent Azali Assoumani who is expected to win.

The COMESA pre-election observers are in Moroni led by President Museveni’s former spokesperson, Hope Kivengere, who is also a member of the COMESA Committee of elders from Uganda. Ms Kivengere led similar mission to Egypt during presidential elections.

The deployment of the pre-election assessment mission is in line with the Decision of the 16th Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs that was held in July 2018 in Lusaka that called on the Secretariat to support Member States planning to hold elections.

COMESA through the Governance Peace and Security Unit (GPS) has prioritized pre-elections observation mission as a means of promoting and enhancing the consolidation of democracy in the region. In 2018 for instance, a pre-election assessment mission was deployed to support the Zimbabwean elections.

As part of its mission to Comoros, the delegation are holding consultation meetings with various stakeholders involved in the electoral process including: Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Interior and Defense, the Chief Justice, the Chief of Police, the Electoral Commission (CENI), various leaders of political parties, civil society organization, media, former government officials; business leaders among others.

The meetings are to enable the COMESA mission to have a proper perspective on the level of preparedness among stakeholders as regards the forthcoming elections.

The key findings from this pre-election observer mission that relate to the forthcoming elections will be shared with stakeholders to ensure that Comoros holds a successful election.

The Supreme Court days ago barred the main challengers of Azali who was voted into office in 2016. Those barred are; former Vice-president Mohamed Ali Soilih and Ibrahim Mohamed Soule. The Supreme Court is said to be composed exclusively of president Azali’s cronies.

A political decision to rotate power among the three islands in the archipelago nation helped end discontent and coups in country the late 1990s.

This year’s election will take place under the provisions of the constitution amended at Azali’s initiative in a contested referendum held last July. The amendment allows the president to hold two five-year terms instead of one. If Azali wins, he will be considered as starting a first term, which would allow him to vie for a second in 2024.

The COMESA team come from the member states of: Burundi, the Comoros, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Sudan, Swaziland, Seychelles, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.