A protest has been held over ongoing reported cases of human rights abuses and torture of opposition political activists in Comoros.
Members of the United Front for the Defense of Human Rights in the Comoros (FUDDH) and the Union of the Comorian opposition in France staged the protest on Saturday at the Place of Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.
The protest held opposite to the headquarters of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights was to denounce what the protesters say is torturing of “political detainees” in the Comoros.
Last month concerns were raised about arrests in Comoros following reports of a failed coup attempt.
Several people have been arrested after the reported “failed coup attempt”. The alleged coup attempt came 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.
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.
Protest against torture
The spokesperson for the Juwa opposition party in Comoros, Aboubakar Aboud said “The purpose of this demonstration is to denounce the arbitrary arrests, and the illegal detentions, especially that of former president Ahmed Abdallah Mohamed SAMBI by Colonel Azali Assoumani’s regime.”
Former President Ahmed Abdallah Mohamed Sambi who has been under house arrest for months has now been taken into custody.
He is under investigations over his role in a scheme to sell citizenship, according to prosecutors.
Aboud says “We also denounce the use of torture, unfair judgments and restrictions on individual and collective freedoms. We want to tell the international community about the violation of human rights, attack on democracy, dismantling of democratic institutions and strangling of freedom of speech by the Comorian authorities.”
“We welcome the fact that the United Nations and the European Union are keeping a close eye on developments in the Comoros and are also calling for respect of the Fomboni Agreements.We urge them to help resolve the situation and put an end to this crisis in compliance with the Fomboni Framework Agreements and the resulting 2001 Constitution,” he adds.
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.