Comoros announces curfew after president’s fourth-term win sparks protests

Assoumani, an ex-military officer whose opponents accuse him of muzzling dissent, first came to power in a 1999 coup.

An overnight curfew has been imposed in the East African island nation of Comoros after violent protests against President Azali Assoumani’s re-election rocked the archipelago, the interior ministry said.

Assoumani won a fourth five-year term after the country’s electoral body on Tuesday declared him the winner of Sunday’s election against five opponents, with 62.97 percent of the vote.

The army fired tear gas to disperse protesters in the streets of the capital, Moroni, on Wednesday, while protesters were still on the streets in the north of the city in the early hours of Thursday.

The interior ministry announced the curfew on Wednesday.

Houmed Msaidie, a Comorian government spokesperson, blamed supporters of losing candidates for the protests.

“These are things that happen here and elsewhere, especially when we are beaten and we contest the results,” he told Reuters news agency.

He said several demonstrators were arrested but did not give a number.

Assoumani’s opponents have said the election was tainted by voter fraud, saying there were instances of ballot stuffing and of voting ending before the official closing time. The government has denied those accusations.

The president, a former military officer whose opponents accuse him of muzzling dissent, first came to power through a coup in 1999.

With a population of about 800,000 people, Comoros has experienced about 20 coups or attempted coups since winning independence from France in 1975. The country is a major source of irregular migration to the nearby French island of Mayotte, which was historically part of the Comoros.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights urged for calm and appealed to authorities to practise restraint in the wake of protests.

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