Concerns are being raised about ongoing arrests taking place in Comoros following reports of a failed coup attempt.
Several people have been arrested after the reported “failed coup attempt”. The alleged coup attempt is coming days after a constitutional referendum.
The referendum was to extend the presidential term limit in Comoros. That also provides the opportunity for President Azali Assoumani to extend his stay in office.
Local media is reporting of arrests of dissidents and opposition leaders in connection with the coup attempt.
Officials said among those arrested are soldiers and a prominent author, Said Ahmed Said Tourqui. The suspects have been called “a very impressive enterprise of terrorists”.
Controversy over referendum
The referendum to extend President Assoumani’s stay in power was boycotted by the opposition.
The results were rejected by the opposition with fears the ongoing arrests are attempts to silence Assoumani’s political opponents.
The referendum result which was ‘Yes’ ends a system of rotating power among the archipelago’s three main islands.
The constitution until the referendum provides for the presidency to rotate every five years among candidates from the country’s three main islands.
This was to promote stability and power-sharing in the country. Majority of citizens in Comoros voted yes allowing President Assoumani to run for two more five year-terms.
Reactions to arrests
Spokesperson for the Juwa Party Abubakar Aboud says “Going by the past events, we are not surprised by the proliferation of this type of serious acts.
The lack of credibility of the judicial authorities reinforces the idea of government conspiracies that are aiming to arrest discordant voices. All of this proves that the country is going through an unprecedented period of instability.”
The European Union also considers recent events in the Comoros “worrying”.
“Violent reactions after the announcement of the results of the constitutional referendum, recent arrests, including that of the Secretary-General of the Juwa party, and the house arrest of former president Ahmed Abdallah Sambi, are troubling for Comoros, “the EU spokesperson for Foreign Affairs, Maja Kocijancic said in a statement.
“Any constitutional amendment requires a calm environment that respects the rule of law and human rights, including freedom of the press,” EU spokesperson added.
President Assoumani stay in power
The President will contest next year’s early election without requiring stepping down to end his current tenure in 2021.
Azali Asoumani has said that the rotation system is not effective and makes it difficult to execute long term projects.
President Assoumani who is a former military officer, seized power in a coup in 1999. He was re-elected in 2016 after serving an elected term as president from 2002-2006.