Comoros Islands vs. Niger

In what VOA calls a “victory for…democracy” in the Comoros Islands, the Constitutional Court annulled the results of a referendum that extended the term of President Mohamed Abdallah Sambi.

Moroni Harbor, Grand Comore, Comoros Islands - by Woodlouse

Recently, President Sambi won a referendum that extended his mandate. But, the opposition described the move as a coup d’état accusing him of clinging to power and setting the groundwork for a longer extension.

President Sambi’s government defended the referendum saying the current system is broken and too costly.

[…]After opposition lawmakers boycotted proceedings, President Sambi’s supporters in parliament scheduled 27 November 2011 as the date for the general elections to choose a governor for the country’s three Islands: Anjouan, Moheli and Grande Comore.

Local media reported that President Sambi is scheduled to hand over power to a leader from Moheli in 2011 under the regular system of rotation.

Residents in Moheli are reportedly expecting one of its leaders to soon take over the presidency after the Constitutional Court’s ruling.

So far, this has the potential to produce an outcome very different from the one in Niger. There, President Mamadou Tandja held a similar referendum over the objections of the opposition and the courts, and remained in power unconstitutionally until the army intervened. Reuters describes the Comoros as “coup-prone,” so the archipelago will need to proceed carefully to avoid destabilization and military intervention. But if the transition from Sambi to the next president goes well, Comoros may show a path toward resolving these kinds of incumbency crises without leaving the framework of democratic governance.