Azali Assoumani, President of Comoros (elected on Apr 10, 2016 with 41% of the vote; turnout is 68.9%)
Azali Assoumani (born January 1, 1959) was President of the Comoros from 1999 to 2002 and again from 2002 to 2006. He became leader of the country on 30 April 1999 after leading a coup to depose acting president Tadjidine Ben Said Massounde, who he saw as pandering to the independence movement on Anjouan. He won multi-party elections in 2002, prior to which he was constitutionally required to temporarily step down in order to run as a candidate.
Azali was born in 1959 at Mitsoudjé in south-western Grande Comore. Until he overthrew the civilian government in 1999, he pursued a military career for two decades. Between 1977 and 1980 he trained at the Royal Military Academy in Morocco and qualified as a parachutist. On his return to Comoros, he joined the FAC. After the death of Abdullah and the departure of the mercenaries in 1989-1990, Major Azali became a senior officer in the new Comorian Defense Force (FCD). In 1996 he undertook further training at a French military academy and was promoted to colonel and chief of staff of the new National Army of Development (NAD).
Constitutionally, the presidency is supposed to rotate every four years between the country’s three islands, Grande Comore, Anjouan and Mohéli.
Ahmed Abdallah Mohamed Sambi, Former President of Comoros
Ahmed Abdallah Mohamed Sambi (born 5 June 1958 in Mutsamudu, Anjouan Island, Comoros) is the current President of Comoros. He is a Comorian Islamic leader and politician. He is popularly known as ‘Ayatollah’. After easily winning the 14 May elections with 58.02% of the national vote, Sambi was inaugurated as President of the Union of the Comoros on 26 May, 2006. It is the first peaceful transfer of power in the history of the Comoros.
Sambi is a father of seven children and owns factories which produce mattresses, bottled water and perfume – a key Comoros export. He lives above a shop called The House of Mattresses in the Anjouan capital, Mutsamudu. He also set up a television station called Ulezi (education).
He was educated in Islamic studies in Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Iran. His title of ‘Ayatollah’ also comes from his studies in Iran.
Running as an independent candidate in the 16 April 2006 presidential primary election on the island of Anjouan, Sambi placed first out of thirteen candidates, winning 23.70% of the vote.
In the 14 May elections, Sambi was declared the victor on 15 May by Secretary of State for elections Ali Abdallah over retired French air force officer Mohamed Djaanfari and long-time politician Ibrahim Halidi, whose candidacy was backed by Azali Assoumani, the outgoing president.
Sambi has been quoted as saying that Comoros is not ready to become an Islamic state, nor will anyone be forced to wear a veil under his presidency. He is also the first president from the island of Anjouan. He also promised to fight corruption, create jobs and build better houses for the majority of Comorians living in poverty.