Treatment of people who have expressed opposition to or dissatisfaction with Colonel A. Azali, leader of the April 1999 military coup [COM35544.E]

On 18 April 2000 Radio France d'Outre Mer reported that a day earlier 12 Comoran opposition parties had staged a demonstration calling on Colonel Azali Assoumani to hand over power to a civilian government. In addition to calling for Azali's resignation, the opposition party leaders also criticized his government (ibid.). The demonstration, the first of it kind since the 30 April 1999 coup, was attended by thousands of people, including chiefs and many youths (ibid.). The report does not mention any arrests or response by security forces.

On 8 July 2000 the Indian Ocean Newsletter (ION) reported that a number of candidates were "jostling and sharpening their arms" in preparation for an election to replace Azali as president. Azali was described as "hanging on to power ... despite diplomatic pressure for him to hand over..." (ibid.).

On 22 July 2000 ION reported that a number of doctors had boycotted a 5 July foundation-stone laying ceremony for a new medical laboratory and consulting rooms at Moroni's main hospital. The government had decided to build the laboratory against the wishes of the majority of doctors, who had recommended a maternity ward and paediatrics service (ibid.). In response to the boycott, on 13 July the government transferred two doctors into isolated rural areas (ibid.). Dr. Issulah, "doyen of the medical corps," was sent to Ouziwani, 60 km from Moroni, while Dr. Tadjir, the country's sole dermatologist, was transferred to Bandamadji, about 100 km from the capital (ibid.). Many Comorans saw the transfers as a return to the repressive methods of former president Ahmed Abdallah (ibid.).

On 23 September ION reported that security forces personnel had broken up, "in a muscular fashion," a demonstration in front of the law court in Moroni staged by supporters of former member of parliament Sheikh Ali Bacar Kassim. ION provides the following information on Sheikh Ali, who had been detained in secrecy since 16 August on a charge of conspiring against the state:

... sheikh Ali is the pet hate of president Assoumani Azzali. He is a driving force in opposition forces and seizes every occasion to lead street demonstrations against the government. His house has frequently been the target of angry attack by the military. Known for freely speaking his mind, he has never hidden his dislike for Azzali. His radio station has broadcast the salary and other advantages accumulated by Azzali since his military coup in April 1999, and also revealed the existence of a loan offered to the president's wife by the state-owned firm Onicor, which still hasn't been repaid. A week before his arrest he issued an "appeal to militants who disapprove of Colonel Azzali's excesses to work for his downfall" (ibid.).

No reports of retaliation against Azali critics by members of his family circle could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Indian Ocean Newsletter [Paris]. 23 September 2000. No. 918. "The Comoros: Azzali's Pet Hate."

_____. 22 July 2000. No. 913. "The Comoros: Moroni Turns to Face East."

_____. 8 July 2000. No. 911. "The Comoros: Already in the Starting Blocks." (NEXIS)

Radio France d'Outre Mer [Mayotte, in French]. 18 April 2000. "Opposition Parties Organize Protest Rally Against Military Junta." (BBC Summary 20 Apr. 2000/NEXIS)

Additional Sources Consulted

Amnesty International country file.

IRB databases.


Research Directorate country file.

World News Connection (WNC).

Internet sites including:

Africa Intelligence.

Africa News.

African Human Rights Resource Centre.

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)

Derechos Human Rights.

Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN).

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Panafrican News Agency (PANA).

Political Parties, Interest Groups and Other Social Movements.