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Comoros ousts army chief of staff

The Comoros army’s chief of staff has been replaced following a judge’s ruling that he be charged in connection with the case of a murdered colonel, the interior and defence minister said Tuesday.

General Salimou Amiri was under surveillance at a residential property, the minister, Ibrahima Houmadi, told national radio in the troubled Indian Ocean archipelago.

Earlier on Tuesday, he appeared before a court over the case of a colonel killed in June by unknown assailants in Moroni.

The hearing ended with the judge telling the General that he was being arrested and charged.

He opposed the move and attempted to return to a barracks on the edge of Moroni, although he was unable to get in and had to take refuge at a military school where he stayed until late afternoon.

Houmadi said Captain Gamil Soilihi Abdallah had been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and named him interim chief of staff.

The Comoros will hold presidential elections in December, which should end a political standoff that has threatened national unity.

Riots erupted earlier this year on Moheli island after President Ahmed Abdallah Sambi’s term, which was to expire in May, was extended by 18 months.

The Union of Comoros is made up of Grande Comore, Anjouan and Moheli isles. Sambi, who is from Anjouan, had been due to hand over power to a leader from Moheli under a rotating presidency system.

Sambi’s election in 2006 was the first peaceful handover of power in the Comoros which has been plagued by 19 coups and coup attempts since independence from France in 1975.

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