CAJ News Agency Johannesburg Abidjan Alexis Doumbia
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THE mass arrest of opposition members, some forced to walk 100 kilometres back home after release, has marred a referendum on constitutional changes in Ivory Coast.

The exercise was held yesterday (Sunday) with the outcome to be ascertained this week.

Recently, at least 50 opposition members were arbitrarily arrested at a protest and detained for hours in moving police vehicles. Leaders were clubbed.

Some were dropped in several places in the capital Abidjan, others around 100 km away from their homes and forced to walk back in a practice known as “mobile detention.”

Others are still in detention including Tahouri Wase Marius. Former President of the National Assembly, Mamadou Koulibali, has been arrested twice since referendum campaigns began on October 22.

Rights groups decried arbitrary arrest and detention of opposition members during peaceful protests or gatherings.

During last year’s presidential election, over 50 opposition supporters were arrested and detained for months.

The government of Alassane Ouattara has been accused of failure to take action.

The West African country has voted in a referendum seto pave way for a new constitution to remove the maximum age limit for candidates for public offices, establish a Vice President’s office and create a new Senate.

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