Sambi willing to change poll date

2010-04-14 11:58

Moroni - The president of Comoros has said he is ready, under certain conditions, to bring forward the date of presidential polls, the cause of political tension in the Indian Ocean archipelago.

President Ahmed Abdallah Mohamed Sambi, in an interview also said Libyan soldiers have been incorporated into his presidential guard.

"If we can harmonise the polls (presidential and the votes at island level for the governor of each island) and if we can find a legal basis, it's ok with me to change the electoral calendar," Sambi said late on Tuesday.

Opposition figures and many residents of Moheli Island, which was expecting one of its leaders to become president next month, have protested an 18-month extension to Sambi's mandate, which should have ended May 26, and insisted on the principle of each island taking its turn to produce a president.

In early March a parliamentary congress boycotted by the opposition set November 27, 2011 as the date for both the presidential poll and for the elections to chose a governor for the union's three islands: Grande Comore, Anjouan and Moheli.

"My aim was to harmonise the elections, not to get another mandate or to prolong my current one," Sambi said.

Following the visit last week by a representative of the African Union, Sambi announced he would be holding a meeting on Wednesday with the governors of the islands "to try to reach an agreement on the electoral calendar, the basis for our discussions".

Sambi confirmed he asked Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi  to "send some men to train and help the presidential guard" in a country rocked by more than 20 coups since independence from France in 1975.

He said the Libyan soldiers had started work on Tuesday morning but denied reports that he had brought in the foreign soldiers without consulting his army commanders.

Sambi, who comes from Anjouan island, was elected in May 2006, succeeding Azali Assoumani from Grande Comore.