Senior Comoros opposition figures handed life sentences

2018-12-17 11:38
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Gavel (iStock)

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The security court in Comoros has handed down life sentences with hard labour to four senior opposition figures and lengthy jail terms to several others for plotting against the state.

The two-day trial and the sentences, delivered late on Saturday, were condemned by the opposition as "an insult to democracy".

Former vice-president Djaffar Said Ahmed Hassane, who has taken refuge in Tanzania, was among those sentenced to forced labour. Colonel Ibrahim Salim, a former head of the army, was one of those jailed.

Hassane had spoken out against the controversial constitutional referendum organised in July by President Azali Assoumani, which strengthened his powers.

The result cleared him to serve two mandates instead of one, which could see him rule for 11 more years.

Although Assoumani was democratically elected in 2016, the controversial referendum - and what critics say is his increasingly authoritarian rule - has provoked violent protests.

Another result of the widely criticised referendum was it allowed him to scrap the rotation of the presidency between Comoros' three main islands. That penalised opposition-leaning Anjouan, which was next in line.

In October, armed rebels confronted the army for more than a week at Mutsamudu, the capital of Anjouan island.

Several senior opposition figures, including the head of the Juwa Party and former president Ahmed Abdallah Sambi have been arrested and held in detention.

The Comoros islands - Anjouan, Grande Comore and Moheli - have endured years of grinding poverty and political turmoil, including about 20 coups or attempted coups, since independence from France in 1975.

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Read more on:    comoros  |  southern africa
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