Comoros Island Elect President to Succeed Slain Leader
MORONI, Comoro Islands (AP) _ Said Mohamed Djohar captured the presidency of this Indian Ocean republic in an election to replace his slain predecessor, final results showed Monday.
However, his opponent in Sunday’s runoff charged fraud and immediately challenged the outcome.
The elections became necessary when President Ahmed Abdallah Abderrahmane was assassinated Nov. 26. French mercenary Bob Denard took control of the island, but he yielded to popular protests and arriving French troops by giving up power the following month.
Denard, widely blamed for killing the president, has denied the accusation.
Djohar said Saturday he hopes South Africa, which has granted Denard temporary refuge, will extradite him to face a trial for the slaying. No extradition treaty exists between the countries.
The National Election Commission said Monday that Djohar, who was serving as interim president of the Comoro Republic, won a seven-year term with 55 percent of the vote. His opponent, Mohamed Taki, gained 45 percent.
Final results gave Djohar 102,882 votes, compared with 83,250 for Taki.
However, Taki claimed he was deprived of 30,000 votes by fraud at 15 polling stations. The complaints must be considered by this nation’s Supreme Court.
Taki, leader of the Comoran Union for Democracy, won the most votes in last week’s first-round elections with 24 percent of the ballots cast. Djohar gained 23 percent.
The remaining six opposition candidates had split their support between Djohar and Taki for the runoff.
Taki declared less than four hours after polls opened Sunday that he would demand the results be scrapped. He said his supporters were harassed and their ballots confiscated.
Beatings, incomplete voter rolls and missing ballots forced Djohar to annul the original first round of elections on Feb. 14.
Voting officials said about 40 percent of the 300,000 eligible voters abstained Sunday.
After independence from France in 1975, Abdallah led the islands until Denard ousted him later that year. However, Denard backed Abdallah’s return to power three years later in this archipelago between Mozambique and Madagascar.
The Frenchman in concert with other European mercenaries commanded the Presidential Guard, giving him effective control of the republic.
The South African government said it hopes to be rid of Denard as soon as it can find a country willing to take him.
In addition to any prosecution in the Comoros, the mercenary faces criminal charges in France for a failed 1977 coup in the West African country Benin.
The islands’ main industries are fishing and tourism, which is controlled mostly by South African interests. The average annual income for the mostly Moslem population is less than $300.