Presidential primaries in Comoros are officially due on 16 April, but a hold-up in donor funding has sparked fears of delays. According to an official government statement released on Thursday, preliminary polls on the Indian Ocean islands will take place on 16 April and the presidential election will be held on 14 May. But a political analyst, on a recent international mission to determine the archipelago's preparedness to hold a ballot, told IRIN: "the Comoros are far from ready. They have been talking about holding elections in April for a long time and now it is already March. In all honesty I don't think it is possible." According to the analyst, "the electoral committee has not yet received any of the money promised by the donors, none of the funds have materialised." France pledged US $1.2 million to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in February to finance the forthcoming polls. According to a joint statement, the grant would be used to update electoral lists, finance the activities of the electoral commission, train technical staff and sensitise the population on 'good electoral citizenship'. According to Ali Said Mdahoma, secretary of the National Elections Commission, "at the moment all the [political] groups are preparing their candidate lists for supreme court approval, but until now we haven't received any of the money. That is a very big problem for us because we cannot afford any of the materials we need." The history of Comoros has been plagued by successful and attempted coups, and the more recent temporary secession of two of the three islands - Anjouan and Moheli. In a power-sharing agreement brokered by the AU's predecessor, the Organisation of African Unity, the Comoros constitution was amended at the end of the 2001 to give each of the islands its own semi-autonomous government with its own president, and changed the country's name to the Union of Comoros. In March 2002, Assoumani Azali from Grand Comore, the largest island, was elected the federal president of the new union. According to the agreement the presidency rotates between the three islands, and Azali is expected to stand down in the coming elections. The presidency will go to Anjouan and the preliminary on 16 April is reserved for it's 270,000 inhabitants. They will elect three candidates to run for the Union presidency when, on 14 May, the total Comoros population of 670,000 will vote. Mdahoma is confident that the elections will be held on 16 April. "It will be possible, technically we will be ready but it will depend on the politicians," he said.
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