Page last updated at 09:55 GMT, Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Comoros president rival arrested

Ahmed Abdallah Mohamed Sambi
A referendum in May extended President Sambi's term till 2011

The authorities in the Comoros Islands have arrested prominent opposition leader Said Larifou.

The Ridja party leader was detained on Tuesday after he criticised President Ahmed Abdallah Sambi at a rally over the weekend.

Campaigning is taking place for the election in December of federal MPs and councillors on the three islands.

The Indian Ocean archipelago nation has experienced more than 20 coups or attempted coups since 1975.

"He was detained for criticising the head of state," Mr Larifou's lawyer Mohamed Baco told AFP news agency.

"He is currently in police custody and will face charges on Wednesday."

Mr Sambi, a Sunni Muslim cleric popularly known as "the Ayatollah", became president in 2006 in the first peaceful change of power since independence from French rule.

In May, voters approved in a referendum constitutional changes allowing Mr Sambi to serve until 2011, instead of stepping down in 2010.

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