Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 1997 - Comoros, 1 January 1997, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aa1237.html [accessed 6 March 2015]
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The first judicial execution since 1975 was carried out in September. At least four people remained under sentence of death at the end of the year. President Mohamed Taki Abdoulkarim was elected in March. His election marked an end to a transitional government which was installed in October 1995 after government troops led by French mercenary Bob Denard overthrew President Said Mohamed Djohar in September 1995. The coup was defeated by French government troops. Although President Djohar had been reinstated as President without executive powers, he was banned from standing as a candidate in the presidential elections in February. Soon after his election, President Mohamed Taki announced that people convicted of murder could be sentenced to death under Islamic law. The announcement reportedly followed public concern about a rise in the murder rate. Some politicians denounced the decision as politically motivated. Legislative elections in December were boycotted by opposition political parties. Nearly all seats in the National Assembly were won by a coalition party, the Rassemblement national pour le développement, National Union for Development, which supports President Mohamed Taki. In October, a new Constitution was adopted by referendum. The Constitution upholds the principles of the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights. Although the Constitution guarantees freedom of expression and assembly, it also provides for the dissolution of political parties which fail to obtain at least two representatives in the National Assembly. While stating that all people are equal before the law and that there will be no discrimination on grounds of sex, origin, race, ideological convictions or religion, the Constitution nevertheless provides for the creation of an Islamic council, known as the Conseil des ulémas, Council of the Ulemas, to advise the National Assembly on the conformity of laws with Islamic principles. At the end of November and beginning of December, five members of opposition political parties were arrested after the authorities accused them of involvement in burning ballot boxes. According to reports, they may have been arrested for criticizing the political system. They were released within days without charge or trial. Ali Youssouf was executed by firing-squad in September. He had been convicted of murder in August by a criminal court. He did not have legal counsel during the trial and was denied the opportunity to appeal against his conviction or sentence; judges of the Cour de Cassation (Appeal Court), had not then been appointed by the National Assembly. This was the first judicial execution carried out since 1975. At least four people remained under sentence of death at the end of the year. They included Saidali Mohamed (also known as Rodin), who was sentenced to death in December. In September, Amnesty International condemned the execution of Ali Youssouf and appealed to President Mohamed Taki to commute all death sentences. The organization urged that all suspects charged with capital offences be given access to legal counsel.