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Flag of the "État comorien" under the rule of Ali Soilih (1975-1978)
Ali Soilih, full name Ali Soilih Mtsashiwa, (January 7, 1937 - May 29, 1978) was a Comorianmarker socialist revolutionary and political figure.


Soilih was born in Majungamarker, Madagascarmarker. He lived much of his early life there, and was educated in Madagascar and Francemarker. During the early 1960s he went to Comoros and worked in agriculture and economic development.

Rise to power

In 1970 Ali Soilih entered politics as a supporter of Said Ibrahim, leader of the Democratic Assembly of the Comoran People, Rassemblement démocratique du Peuple Comorien (RDPC), and soon became an adherent of Maoism.

Less than a month after Comoros gained independence from France, Soilih overthrew President Said Mohamed Jaffar and became head of a revolutionary council which took over Comoros. This occurred on August 3, 1975 when Soilih, whose adherents were barely armed, hired French mercenary Bob Denard to overthrow Abdallah. Soilih officially became President of the revolutionary council in January 1976. He adopted extended powers under the terms of a new constitution and implemented socialist economic policies.

Revolutionary program

Soilih embarked on a revolutionary program, based on a mixture of Maoist and Islamic philosophies. His vision was to develop the Comoros as an economically self-sufficient and ideologically progressive modern state.

Perceived as wasteful and cumbersome, certain customs of Comorian culture were abolished, like the Anda, the costly "grand marriage", as well as traditional funerary ceremonies. Younger people were allowed to take more power, the voting age was lowered to fourteen and teenagers were put in positions of responsibility. Soilih also discouraged the study of history and the wearing of the veil among the women of Comoros. Among the most striking of his reforms was the legalization of cannabis.

Soilih created the Moissy, a young revolutionary militia trained by Tanzanian military advisers. The Moissy was a Comorian version of Mao's Red Guards and their methods were similar to those that had been employed by their Chinese counterpart during the Cultural Revolution. Moissy units terrorised villages and specialized in violent attacks against conservative elders, formerly revered old men.


As a result of Soilih's Maoist policies, France, the former colonial power, terminated all its aid and technical assistance programs to Comoros.The teenage Moissy were perceived as a repressive political police, and their often random and chaotic activity caused widespread resentment among the Comorian population.The progressive elimination of age-old traditions and their humiliation at the hands of the Moissy alienated the traditional leaders of the Comoros.Growing popular discontent resulted in four unsuccessful coup attempts against the Soilih regime during its two and a half-year existence.

On May 13, 1978, Soilih was finally overthrown by a fifty-member European mercenary unit, hired by exiled former leader Ahmed Abdallah in France and led by French Colonel Bob Denard. After Abdallah took over, Soilih's policies were reversed and the name of the country was changed to "Islamic Federal Republic of the Comoros", Abdallah became president, and Soilih was soon killed by Abdallah's supporters.


More than a decade later, in 1989, Soilih's older half-brother, Said Mohamed Djohar, overthrew Abdallah, possibly with the help of Denard. He served as president of Comoros until 1996.

The effects of the social policies of Ali Soilih are still apparent in the Comoros, particularly on Anjouanmarker.

See also


  1. LOC - Comoros, The Break with France
  2. The Europa World Year Book, V1 Taylor & Francis Group
  3. Le Anda, Grand Mariage comorien sous Ali Soilih
  4. Transition, 73 - The Mercenary Position
  5. LOC - Comoros, The Soilih Regime
  6. Al Hakawati, Comoros
  7. LOC - Comoros, Security Concerns
  8. The secessionist Crisis in the Comoros Islands
  9. The Guardian, Another day, another coup

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