Comoros says foils plot against government, makes arrests

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 22, 2013 11:41 AM
Comoros says foils plot against government, makes arrests

MORONI (Reuters) - Authorities in Comoros have detained several people suspected of plotting against the government, senior officials said on Monday.

Disquiet has simmered in recent months on the politically volatile Indian Ocean archipelago, which has experienced around 20 coups or coup attempts since independence in 1975, after President Ikililou Dhoinine sacked people allied to his predecessor.

About 10 people were taken into custody in the Kandani military camp, suspected of wanting to "orchestrate a destabilizing act", a presidential aide told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

He stopped short of calling it a coup attempt.

Interior Minister Hamada Abdallah confirmed the existence of a scheme to challenge the country's leadership.

"Everything that you have heard recently is a reality," Abdallah said at a function. He gave no further details of the alleged plot but said: "Be reassured, because the country is safe."

Independent information can be hard to access in the tightly controlled country made up of three small volcanic islands.

Houmed Msaidie, head of the opposition, criticized the government for saying little about the situation, three days after the detentions.

Among those held was the son of former President Ahmed Abdallah Abderemane, who was assassinated in 1989, as well as a former minister, Mahmoud Ahmed Abdallah, the officials said.

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Dhoinine was elected president in December, 2010, with the backing of his predecessor, Ahmed Abdallah Sambi. This year, however, Dhoinine has dismissed close associates of Sambi, including the head of the army.

Last month, Sambi said he had been cast out of the president's decision making inner-circle and was now among opposition ranks.

(Reporting by Ahmed Ali Amir; Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Drazen Jorgic and Robin Pomeroy)