Comoros’ highest court has annulled a law which extended the mandate of the Indian Ocean islands’ leader after weeks of heightened political tensions on the coup-prone archipelago.
The Constitutional Court said President Mohamed Abdallah Sambi’s term in office would end later this month, and not November 2011, and recommended an interim period to agree on when the next ballot should be held.
“On the May 26 the mandate of the Union’s president and his two vice presidents will end,” the court said in a statement on Saturday. “During this (interim) period the government does not have the right to dissolve parliament … nor to change the members of the Constitutional Court.”
Earlier this year, a newly elected parliament ratified a law aligning local and federal elections, effectively extending Sambi’s term by 18 months.
Sambi’s supporters argued the new legislation would cut bureaucracy and save costs in one of the world’s poorest countries. But his critics accused him of trying to cling on to power.
Many on the opposition-stronghold island of Moheli, which had been due to take over the rotating presidency on May 27, felt the law was a deliberate attempt to rob them of the presidency.
The Indian Ocean archipelago, sandwiched between Mozambique and Madagascar, has a history of political turmoil and coups since it won independence from France in 1975.
Growing anger on Moheli saw the government deploy extra security forces there to quell bouts of civil unrest and a ban on public rallies.