Said Mchangama, a 60-year-old Danish national who lives on the African archipelago of Comoros, has been arrested for calling for a general strike on the island to protest against a lack of electrical power. Comoros is located off Mozambique on Africa's east coast.
Mchangama’s call for a 72-hour strike starting yesterday was effective: shops and supermarkets were closed, there was a limited supply of goods in the local markets, schools were closed, and only about half of the archipelago's taxis were running.
The Comoros government responded by forcing supermarkets in the capital city of Moroni to open. They also arrested Mchangama’s co-activist Inoussa Hamidou and 20 other young protesters.
Mchangama has been involved in Comoros politics for years, both as its former finance minister and chairman of the parliament. He is currently head of the consumer movement Consumer Federation (FCC), which led the strike it called 'Dead Island'.
The reason behind the action was the archipelago's recurring problems with electricity and water supply. Many of the country’s almost 700,000 inhabitants live in rural areas where the electricity supply suffers daily interruptions.
The general strike was a response to what is perceived as the government's inadequate attempt to establish a reliable power supply.
Mchangama negotiated with the government in the days leading up to his arrest to no avail. He was arrested on Monday and charged with "inciting hatred”.
Mchangama has previously lived in Denmark for 12 years. His son Jacob, who is well known to Danish media as the chief executive of the think-tank Justitia, confirmed his father’s arrest.
“We hope for more news sometime today,” Mchangama told Jyllands-Posten.
The Foreign Ministry is expected to comment on the case soon.