A controversial plan in the French Indian Ocean island of Mayotte to demolish slum dwellings and deport illegal migrants mainly to nearby Comoros has been halted by a court ruling.

Set to start at 06:00 local time (03:00 GMT) on Tuesday, the clearance of the shantytown known as Talus 2, near the main city of Mamoudzou, was stopped at the last minute on the grounds that the relocation plans lacked a legal basis.

The préfet, the highest state representative on the island, said he would appeal against the decision.

Extra police officers and soldiers had been sent from the French mainland to boost the local security forces to 1,800 officers.

Their presence raised tensions and clashes erupted on Sunday between young locals and police in the district of Tsoundzou, outside of Mamoudzou.

Nicknamed “Wuambushu”, meaning “take back” in the local language, the operation has been criticised by human rights organisations and trade unions across France and elsewhere.

The Comorian government, which continues to claim ownership of Mayotte, sees the proposed slum clearances and deportations as a “grave violation of international rights” and vowed to do everything they can to prevent it.

The French authorities are planning to deport all illegal migrants back to their home country, a large majority of them being from the Comoros, only 70km (43 miles) away from Mayotte.

But on Monday, the Comorian authorities refused to allow the docking of a boat carrying some of them and suspended passenger traffic until further notice.

Source: BBC