Twenty-five candidates out of 28 have been cleared to run in the first round of next month’s presidential elections in the Indian Ocean archipelago of the Comoros, the Constitutional Court confirmed in a January ruling. All the remaining hopefuls come from the island of Grande Comore, which is next in line to hold the post in compliance with a 2001 constitutional provision stipulating that the presidency should rotate among the three islands that make up the Comoros.
The first round of voting will take place on February 21, with the top three candidates to face off in a second round on April 18. The three islands of Anjouan, Grand Comore and Moheli have a total population of just under 800,000 people. Among the contenders to be dropped from the list of candidates were former leader and Muslim populist Abdallah Sambi, who has been eyeing a political comeback. The decision was expected however as Sambi, president from 2006 to 2011, hails from Anjouan and it is not that island’s turn to hold the presidency.
The Comoros, officially the Union of the Comoros is a sovereign archipelago island nation noted for its diverse culture and history, in the Indian Ocean located at the northern end of the Mozambique Channel off the eastern coast of Africa between northeastern Mozambique and northwestern Madagascar. Its capital is Moroni, on Grande Comore.
At 1,660 km2 (640 sq mi), excluding the contested island of Mayotte, the Comoros is the third-smallest African nation by area. The population, excluding Mayotte, is estimated at 798,000. The Union of the Comoros has three official languages – Comorian, Arabic and French. The religion of the majority of the population is Islam.