Leaders of three opposition parties were arrested by police on Friday in Moroni, Comoros during a protest denouncing the constitutional referendum scheduled for next month.
The three leaders, Moustoipha Said Cheihk, Mohamed Wadaane and Ibrahim Abdourazak dit Razida, were detained by the army outside the Grand Mosque of the Comorian capital.
For several weeks, Friday prayers has been the scene of weekly clashes between the police and opposition supporters who denounce the “authoritarian rule” of the head of state .
We defend the unity of this country, President Azali Assoumani, you should understand that we respect you and that we voted for you and even those who did not vote for you respect you, know that the values of democracy you should respect.
This week, the army was forced to fire tear gas canisters to disperse protesters.
The leader of a party hostile to the regime has already been sentenced this month to serve six months in prison and suspended for participating in a previous demonstration in front of the same mosque.
Similar clashes also took place on Friday in Mutsamudu, capital of the island of Anjouan. A protester was wounded in the leg by a tear gas grenade, witnesses told AFP on the phone.
President Azali has scheduled a referendum on July 29 that would allow him to run for a second consecutive term as head of Comoros.
This decision has been criticised many of his opponents, including those of Vice President Ahmed Said Jaffar, who deem it “dangerous” and “contrary” to the Constitution.
In recent weeks, the head of state has suspended the Constitutional Court, the highest court in the country. He has placed his predecessor and rival Ahmed Abdallah Sambi under house arrest and banned demonstrations.
President Azali was elected in 2016 for a non-renewable five-year term, according to the constitution.
An African Union (AU) mission is expected in Moroni on Saturday to try to ease political tensions.