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Struggle for Control Hits the Comoros

August 04, 1991|From Reuters

ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar — The president of the Comoros says he is still in control despite an attempt to oust him using the same constitutional clause that brought him to power in the Indian Ocean republic two years ago.

Said Mohamed Djohar told citizens of the impoverished archipelago in a radio address Saturday to stay calm and said those responsible for trying to oust him will be brought to justice, Information Minister Mohamed Adamo said.

Adamo, speaking from the Comoros' capital of Moroni, told Reuters in the neighboring island of Madagascar that Supreme Court President Ibrahim Ahmed Halidi and members of a disgruntled opposition party had staged the coup attempt.

They used an outlawed radio station early on Saturday to say Djohar was no longer in power in the republic, which lies between Madagascar and the Mozambique coast.

Adamo said the Supreme Court had tried to invoke a constitutional clause under which the head of state is automatically replaced by the Supreme Court president if he dies or is physically or mentally incapacitated.

"But this is not the case with President Djohar," Adamo said. "Anyway, to invoke this clause, the court would have to seek majority approval from the government." It did not.

Djohar, 71, himself a former president of the Supreme Court, assumed interim power through the same constitutional clause after former President Ahmed Abdallah was assassinated in 1989.

The Comoros has seen a series of unstable governments since independence from France in 1975.

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