Comorians voted to extend President Ahmed Abdallah Sambi’s mandate, official figures showed on Monday, but the opposition said the low turnout was an indictment of his leadership. Provisional results from the National Electoral Commission gave the ‘yes’ vote 92.32 percent, with a 44.81 percent turnout.

COMOROSAs well as extending Sambi’s mandate by a year, voters also agreed that the presidents of the Comoros’ three islands — Grand Comores, Anjouan and Moheli — would be replaced by governors. “I am very satisfied with these results even if I note the weak turnout. I congratulate the civic spirit shown by the population,” Foreign Minister Ahmed Ben Said Jaffar told Reuters.

The Comoros’ convoluted political system was designed to keep the three coup-prone Indian Ocean islands in a union following the archipelago’s volatile post-independence history. Rivals of Sambi — who had been due to step down in May 2010 — accuse him of clinging to power and weakening each island’s autonomy. The government says the current system is too costly.

The provisional results will now be presented to the Constitutional Court for official approval. Sambi will now stay in power until 2011 before handing over to a leader from Moheli under the rotating system. The opposition had urged supporters to boycott the poll and accused the authorities of inflating the official turnout.



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