Wednesday, February 24, 1999 Published at 02:46 GMT
Riots in Mauritius over death of singer
One person died during clashes in the capital, Port Louis
By Africa Reporter, Caroline Hawley
Protests against the death of a popular reggae singer on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius have now spread outside the capital, Port Louis.
The singer, known as Kaya, is to be buried on Wednesday. The usually tranquil island of Mauritius has been thrown into turmoil by Kaya's death.
The singer was arrested last Thursday for smoking marijuana during a rally calling for the drug to be decriminalised. He died, in police custody, three days later.
Protests began almost immediately in the neighbourhood where Kaya lived, and quickly spread throughout the capital.
The singer's supporters say his skull was fractured, and have accused the police of brutality against the island's Creole community, who are descended from African slaves. The police have denied this.
Mauritius has a reputation for political stability, and racial harmony among the mix of Asians, Europeans and Africans who make up its million-odd population.
The former French colony is also relatively prosperous - its palm-fringed beaches have been a magnet for wealthy European holidaymakers.
Whatever the truth of Kaya's death, the events of the past few days have shaken the island's peaceful image.
The Prime Minister, Navinchindra Ramgoolam, has appealed for calm and promised a full investigation.
Preliminary results of a second autopsy are reported to have found no evidence that the singer's skull was fractured. But the full findings are not expected for several days.