African Union expert observer mission to the re-run presidential and gubernatorial elections in 13 polling stations in the autonomous island of Anjouan in the Union of Comoros 11th May 2016
At the invitation of the Government of the Union of The Comoros, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini -Zuma deployed an election experts mission on the 7th May 2016 to the re-run of presidential and gubernatorial elections in 13 polling stations in the autonomous Island of Anjouan of the Union of The Comoros held on 11th May 2016. The Mission is led by H.E. Barrister Mr. Bartholomew KERE, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of Burkina Faso. The Mission comprising a team of twenty (20) experts from 15 African countries was supported by experts from the AUC and the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA). The Mission's mandate is conduct an independent, impartial and objective assessment of the 11th May 12016 polls .The evaluation was based on the provisions of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance adopted in 2007 and entered into force in 2012; the OAU/AU Declaration on the Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa 2002; the AU Guidelines for Election Observation and Monitoring Missions of the 2002, relevant international instruments governing election observation, as well as the legal framework for the presidential and governorship elections in the Autonomous Islands in the Union of The Comoros .
II. OBJECTIVES AND METHODOLOGY OF THE MISSION
In fulfilling its mandate as stipulated under the AU instruments governing democratic elections in Africa, the objective of the AUEOM is to make an independent, impartial and objective assessment of the re-run elections that the Constitutional Court ordered to be conducted. The Mission deployed a short-term methodology for this election. Thus, the observers of the Mission were able to follow both the voting procedures, tallying, counting of the ballots and display of results at each of the polling stations in accordance with Article 150 the Electoral Code. The Mission had consultations with key stakeholders including: government authorities, the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI), the Constitutional Court and the Civil Society. The Mission also held discussions with representatives of United Nations Development Program, (UNDP), the Diplomatic Corps in the Union of The Comoros and presidential candidates. During the consultative meetings with some candidates' representatives and Civil Society Organizations, the AUEOM noted the desire of the latter to see that the CENI publishes the results from the 13 polling stations. The Mission will continue to meet with stakeholders and monitor post-election developments until its departure from the country. In order to prepare the observers for deployment, the AUEOM held a briefing and orientation on the 10th May 2016. This session allowed the observers to be informed on the specific context of the elections of 11th May 2016. The AUEOM deployed 13 observers who were stationed in all the 13 polling stations where re-run elections were held. This statement presents the Mission's preliminary findings up until the close of polls and based on data gathered through direct observations and consultation with relevant stakeholders.
III. BACKGROUND OF 11th MAY 2016 VOTES
The re-run presidential and gubernatorial elections of the 11th May 2016 in the Island of Anjouan, was a result of the Decision No. 021 / E / G / NDZ / DC of the Constitutional Court of 30th April 2016 that ruled that fresh elections be conducted in 13 polling stations on the island of Anjouan. The registered voters in these polling stations were unable to vote on 10th April 2016 due to some challenges. Although the re-run elections were conducted in 13 polling stations, it mainly has a significant impact on the outcome of the presidential election results. The same reason explained why political tensions have been high and exceptional security measures were put in place during the re-run elections.
IV. PRELIMINARY CONCLUSIONS
Opening of the polling stations
77% of polling stations opened late, between 15 and 30 minutes. The delays were mainly due to the late setting up of the polling stations because the election materials were not delivered on time and some organizational adjustments between staff of polling stations and CENI delegates.
In all the 13 polling stations, election materials were available in sufficient quantities throughout the voting period.
In the 13 polling stations, all the election officials were present at the opening of polls with 33% of the staff being women. In all the polling stations, election staff interacted well with both voters and candidates agents. However, there were some misunderstandings reported in some polling stations, especially in Mrijou 2, Mjimandra 2 and Nyamboirmo 2. Despite these misunderstandings, the Mission noted that the polling staff showed a good professionalism in conducting the voting and counting procedures as provided for in Articles 118 and 131 of the Electoral Code.
D. Voting Procedures
Voting was conducted peacefully without any interference. No major incidents were observed. The voting procedures as provided for in the electoral law were generally followed. Voters who required special assistance including people with disabilities were provided with such support. However, the Mission observed some misunderstandings among polling staff and candidates' representatives in some polling stations at Bimbini 2, Bongouani 2 and Nyamboimro 2.
The Mission noted the presence of the candidates'/party agents in all the polling stations (11/13were for presidential candidate Mohammed Ali Soilih, 13/13 were for presidential candidate Azali Assoumani, 7/13 for candidate Mouigni Baraka, 13/13 for candidate Abdou Abdou Salami and12/13 for candidate Anissi Chamsidine). The candidates' agents were vigilant throughout on the Election Day and interacted professionally with the election officials, with some minor exceptions where actions of some of them seemed untimely. The Mission met with some observers who also deployed during the re-run elections including the Indian Ocean Commission, the Platform of Women and Youth for peaceful elections in the Union of The Comoros, Elections Observatory of the Union of The Comoros and the Comorian Federation of Civil Society.
The Mission noted that there was heavy deployment of security forces at the entrances of the polling centers. It noted that the security conducted themselves professionally through checking voters in a peaceful and orderly manner. No acts of intimidation or intrusion in the conduct of voting were observed.
The mission noted a high voter turnout at all polling stations. According to data collected by the AUEOM observers at the close of polls, the overall voter turnout was 68.80%. The Mission also noted with satisfaction the high participation of women.
H. Closing and counting of votes
The closing and counting were conducted in accordance with the requirements of Articles 131 and 132 of the Electoral Code. The voters present at the polling station before closing time were all allowed to cast their votes. Counting procedures were conducted by members of the polling stations, assisted by the inspectors without any interruptions.
I. Results Management.
In all polling stations, copies of the duly signed result forms were given to candidates agents. However, the pasting of electoral results for the general public's attention has not been systematic in all the polling stations.
Following its observations, the AUEOM noted that the 11th May 2016 re-run elections in the autonomous Island of Anjouan in the Union of The Comoros, was conducted in a peaceful and calm environment. The Mission congratulates people of the Union of The Comoros for the good conduct of the re-run elections which was inclusive, free and transparent and was a reflection of the will of the people. The AUEOM congratulates the people of the Island of Anjouan for their contributions to the proper conduct of 11th May 2016 re-run elections. It particularly applauds the Comorian Civil Society for their central role in maintaining an atmosphere of peace that has prevailed s throughout the process. The AUEOM also welcomes the progress of CENI since the elections of 2015, particularly regarding the steady progress of the electoral staff in mastery of the conduct of elections. The AUEOM finally urges all election stakeholders to consolidate their efforts to promote peace and social cohesion as shown by the maturity of the Comorian people during the conduct of the re-run elections.
Done at Anjouan, 12th May 2016
By H.E. Barthélémy KERE
Head of Mission