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Hope as small countries set African democracy standards

Sunday May 8 2016

Benin leader leader of a coalition of the opposition Patrice Talon waves to supporters during a campaign rally in the Ekpe District near Cotonou. He won the second round of the presidential elections on March 20, 2016. PHOTO | AFP

Benin leader leader of a coalition of the opposition Patrice Talon waves to supporters during a campaign rally in the Ekpe District near Cotonou. He won the second round of the presidential elections on March 20, 2016. PHOTO | AFP  

CIUGU MWAGIRU
By CIUGU MWAGIRU
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A little-heralded but significant event — announced in a decree signed last Monday by outgoing President Ikililou Dhoinine — will be held in the Comoros on Wednesday.

On that day, the tiny island nation will hold a partial re-run, in 13 constituencies, of the disputed second round of the presidential poll held on April 10.

The country’s constitutional court ordered the re-run following irregularities in the second round vote.

A nation with a population of just under 800,000, Comoros was in the past a notorious playground for instability and mercenaries.

With a murky history of  more than 20 coups or attempted coups, in the years following independence from France in 1975, the country is convulsed in poverty.

Its adversities notwithstanding, Comoros has become a bastion of democracy alongside other small countries like Benin and Cape Verde.

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Benin was lauded as a haven of democracy following an orderly presidential poll in March.

GRACEFUL EXIT

Cape Verde, whose presidential election will be held in August, is often touted as one of the most stable countries on the continent, and lived up to that reputation when it held parliamentary polls in March.

The orderly elections resulted in the opposition party — the Movement for Democracy winning  a majority, ousting the African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde.

In typical Cape Verde fashion, the chairman of the ruling party, Janira Hopffer Almada, gracefully conceded defeat.

The re-run in Comoros, to be held on the island of Anjouan, is widely seen as capable of reversing last month’s close second round results, which saw former coup leader Azali Assoumani winning.

He ousted acting president Tadjidine Ben Said Massounde in a 1999 coup and then won an election three years later.

He stepped down when his term ended in 2006.

Having ruled the country for seven years, his recent comeback attempt saw him garnering 40.98 per cent of the vote.

He was  narrowly ahead of Vice-President Mohamed Ali Soilihi who got up 39.87 per cent.

Mouigni Baraka, the governor of Grand Comore island was third with 19.15 per cent of the vote.

Given the margin by which Col Assoumani won last month’s run-off, the partial re-run could raise queries about the result of the April 10 second round vote.

The court maintains that new president would be sworn into office by May 26.

In that event, the leader would  be one of the few truly legitimate ones in Africa.