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Ahmed Abdallah Mohamed Sambi ( , born 5 June 1958) is a Comorianmarker Islamic leader and politician, currently serving as the President of Comoros. He is popularly known as 'Ayatollah'. After easily winning the 14 May 2006 presidential election with 58.02% of the national vote, Sambi was inaugurated as President of the Union of the Comorosmarker on 26 May 2006. It was the first peaceful transfer of power in the history of the Comoros.

Personal life

Sambi was born in Mutsamudumarker, on the island of Anjouanmarker. He 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 Mutsamudu, the capital of Anjouan. He also set up a television station called Ulezi (education).

He descends from the ba Alalwi family of Hadhramaut (Yemen).

The Ayatollah of Comoros

He was educated in Islamic studies in Sudanmarker, Saudi Arabiamarker and Qommarker, Iranmarker. According to the Tehran-based Tabnak news agency, while Sambi was there he studied under Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi. Despite his Sunni background, Sambi's time in Iran and his penchant for turbans earned him the nickname "The Ayatollah of Comoros".

Political career

Running as an independent candidate in the 16 April 2006 presidential primary election on the island of Anjouanmarker, Sambi placed first out of thirteen candidates, winning 23.70% of the vote.

In the 14 May election, 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.

Political views

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.

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