A man seen as a moderate Islamist won Sunday's election on the Comoros Islands, provisional results show.
Mr Sambi's supporters hope he will fight corruption and create jobs
Ahmed Abdallah Mohamed Sambi was seen as the favourite and he won 58% of the vote, the electoral board said.
Supporters of the cleric, known as "Ayatollah" after his studies in Iran, were celebrating in the streets as early as Monday, confident of victory.
The election is intended to herald the first peaceful change of power in the Comoros in 30 years of independence.
The islands have been plagued by instability and have had 19 coups or coup attempts.
Following a 2001 constitutional settlement, the presidency rotates every four years between the three islands of the archipelago.
This time, all three candidates were from the island of Anjouan.
Ibrahim Halidi, backed by outgoing President Azali Assoumani got 28% of the vote, while former military pilot Mohamed Djaanfari gained 14%, the electoral board said.
During the campaign, Mr Sambi vowed to fight corruption and unemployment.
"It has to be the Ayatollah, no-one else," said mechanic Miftah Azali, according to Reuters news agency.
"He's a man of integrity, not a liar like other politicians."
"The Comorans want change and he's the one to do it," said Djoauharia Said, a trader, as she danced to Mr Sambi's campaign song in the capital, Moroni, on Monday.
Mr Sambi's opponents have said he is an Islamic extremist but he has denied this, saying the overwhelmingly Muslim Comoros are not ready to become an Islamic republic.
He has promised he would not outlaw the famous Comoran lavish wedding ceremonies or force women to cover their hair.
Mr Azali, from Grand Comore, won the first election in 2002 after coming to power via a bloodless coup three years earlier.
The African Union has sent hundreds of mainly South African troops to help ensure a peaceful transition.
Comoran troops have been confined to barracks.