Comoros seeks to arrest ex-VP who opposed president's term limit move

MORONI (Reuters) - Prosecutors in Comoros have issued an international arrest warrant for former vice president Jaffar Ahmed Said Hassani on charges of plotting against the state, according to a document seen by Reuters.

FILE PHOTO: Comoros President Azali Assoumani addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 21, 2017. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz/File Photo

Jaffar openly opposed a referendum to extend presidential term limits held in June and the suspension of the constitutional court by President Azali Assoumani.

He left the Indian Ocean state on Monday on a flight to Tanzania.

The warrant, issued by the government on Friday, accused Jaffar of “plotting against the authority of the state”. Another letter issued by the Foreign Ministry and seen by Reuters informs embassies of the revocation of his diplomatic passports.

Government officials were not immediately available to give details.

Since last month, a number of people have been arrested and charged with plotting to destabilize Comoros.

On Aug. 2, Assoumani said he had won the referendum to extend presidential term limits and end a system oZf rotating power among the archipelago’s three main islands by an overwhelming majority.

The yes vote allows him to run for two more five year-terms starting with an early election next year, rather than being required to step down when his present term ends in 2021.

Opposition parties and civil society organizations grouped under the Peace in the Comoros umbrella group disputed the figures, saying many voters had boycotted the poll.

Assoumani, a former military officer, joins a string of African leaders in countries such as Rwanda, Uganda and Cameroon who have extended presidential term limits or amended the constitution in order to remain in power.

Writing by Aaron Maasho; Editing by Kevin Liffey