Abdallah Abdereman, Ahmed (Comoros)
Ahmed Abdallah Abdereman was head of the governing council in 1975 when he was overthrown in a coup, but returned to power as president from 1976–89. He viewed independence as a ‘regrettable necessity’.
Born on 12 June 1918, Abdallah was partly educated in Majunga, Madagascar. He held several posts in the Comoros’ government from 1947 onwards. Following the Comoran declaration of independence in 1975, he was elected head of state by the national assembly.
The Abdallah government was overthrown by a coalition of six parties (the United National Front) on 3 Aug. 1975. Abdallah escaped to Nzwani, continuing his rule with a small armed contingent. In Sept., however, he was finally arrested. Three years later, the Soilihi government (established after the Aug. 1975 coup) was overturned by mercenary forces. Having helped to finance the coup Abdallah returned to Moroni from exile in Paris and was eventually named sole president.
Abdallah drafted a new constitution, giving each island limited self-rule but securing significant power for the presidency. It also provided for the restoration of Islam as the state religion. In 1982 all opposition political parties were banned, the culmination of several years of persecution of political opponents, especially those who had been in the Soilih camp.
The ongoing presence of the mercenary leader Bob Denard led to severe international criticism of the Abdallah regime. the Comoros’ membership of the Organization of African Unity was suspended, diplomatic relations with Madagascar were severed and the UN threatened economic sanctions. However, Abdallah worked hard to maintain the diplomatic ties established by Soilih and there was a thawing in relations with France, particularly after he relaxed pressure over the question of Mahoré sovereignty and allowed French ships to use Comoran ports.
Grants from the European Economic Community and several Arab nations allowed for development of the Comoran infrastructure. However there was little significant upturn in the stagnant economy and funds that should have gone towards development went instead on staples such as rice. After a failed coup in 1981, opposition to Abdallah’s rule was based predominantly abroad. With no rivals at home, he won over 99% of the vote in the 1984 presidential elections.
Protected by a Garde Presidentielle (PG, Presidential Guard) led by Denard and French and Belgian mercenaries, he ordered the arrest, killing and torture of dissidents. The regime was condemned by Amnesty International for human rights abuses and France threatened to cut off aid. The GP continued to wield its influence throughout the 1980s and Denard used his position for financial gain. Abdallah himself was criticized for his dominant role in Comoran business, often allowing personal interests to affect policy decisions.
Abdallah called a referendum in Nov. 1989, to approve constitutional amendments allowing him to stand for re-election in 1990. The polls were marked by violence and on the night of 26–27 Nov. Abdallah was shot dead. Two days later Denard and the GP seized control of the government.