One person was killed and five were injured in Comoros, in clashes which followed the announcement of the victory, contested by the opposition, of outgoing Azali Assoumani in the presidential election, while tensions continue on Thursday January 18 in the capital, Moroni.

The main victim, aged 21, was killed “most likely by gunshot,” said the head of emergency at El Maarouf hospital, Djabir Ibrahim. Five other people were injured; one of them suffers from “serious chest trauma with a life-threatening prognosis,” he continued.

Earlier in the day, sporadic tensions between youth groups and law enforcement continued in Moroni. In the alleys of the city center, groups of young men, often with their faces hidden, threw stones in the direction of the police, who responded with tear gas.

“We are fighting (…) because we do not agree with the election results. That’s why we burned official buildings,” explained a young protester who did not wish to give his name.

Curfew established

On Wednesday, clashes increased in several districts of the city. Buildings were vandalized and burned: the house of a minister, the premises of a state enterprise, a rice warehouse. Some tore down election posters of re-elected president Azali Assoumani. Barricades made of piles of stones and pieces of wood were set up on the roads.

Several arrests were made, but no details were made public. Protest is rare in the country, held with an iron fist, and any dissent is quickly stifled. The Internet connection has been largely disrupted since Wednesday, with certain pages no longer accessible on social networks. A nighttime curfew was established on the three islands of the country (Ngazidja, Ndzouani and Moili) on Wednesday evening and until an undetermined date.

For Saïd Mohamed Saïd Tourqui, member of an opposition party, this measure is the expression of “a true fierce and savage dictatorship”.

“Gross fraud” and “ballot stuffing”

Mr. Assoumani, 65, was re-elected on Sunday in the first round with 62.97% of the vote but only 16.3% of the electorate participated in the vote, according to official figures announced Tuesday evening. This victory should allow him to run for a third consecutive term and remain in power until 2029.

The opposition denounced “gross fraud” and “ballot stuffing” and demanded the cancellation of the vote.

“It is not an organized protest, but we are in solidarity with the spontaneous movement. We salute the courage of these young people. It’s a right to demonstrate,” opposition candidate Daoudou Abdallah Mohamed told Agence France-Presse. “This country needs to get back to normal. This contempt for Azali Assoumani and his cronies must stop,” adds another opposition candidate, preferring to speak on condition of anonymity.

The UN launched an appeal for “calm” in the Comoros on Wednesday, urging authorities to protect the right to demonstrate.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, also called on authorities to protect “democratic principles” and called on protesters to avoid resorting to violence. On Thursday, the European Union called on “all parties to continue the process peacefully.”