Teargas used to disperse Comoros demonstrators

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Police in Comoros used teargas to disperse demonstrators led by opposition leaders protesting against what they said were fraudulent presidential elections, witnesses said.

Opposition candidates said Sunday’s poll was marred by irregularities including barring independent monitors and marking ballot papers before voting began, which government denied.

About 300,000 voters in the Indian Ocean archipelago of 800,000 people took part in the elections, with results expected to be announced by electoral body CENI later.

Protests led by opposition candidates started on Monday morning, with nearly 1,000 people chanting “Azali Nalawe” (Azali outside), referring to incumbent President Azali Assoumani.

Assoumani, a former military officer, is widely expected to be re-elected.

Candidate Soilihi Mohamed said their objective was to “to prevent the power to validate the fraudulent results of the elections”.

Demonstrators marched to Independence Square for a rally before going to the Peoples’ Palace, the venue for the counting of results, a Reuters witness said.

Ibrahim Ali Mzimba, another presidential candidate, suffered a cut to his face.

“I think I was grazed by a bullet,” he said.

Comoros experienced months of unrest last year as authorities moved to quell protests against Assoumani’s bid to extend presidential term limits.

People on the archipelago’s Anjouan island were angry that the move, which allowed Assoumani to participate in Sunday’s poll, would deny them the presidency under a system that rotates the post among the country’s three main islands.