Chad: Protests in Chad Amid Anger At Junta’s Rule, 50 Dead

Pro-democracy demonstrators clashed with police in the Chadian capital, N’Djamena, claiming roughly 50 lives. This follows the recent extension of military rule in the country.

Prime minister Saleh Kebzabo said about 50 were killed in the demonstrations which occurred on the date when the military originally promised it would cede power to civilians.

The Chadian prime minister also said a nighttime curfew would be imposed until the “total restoration of order” was completed in areas of unrest.

Protesters are angered by the country’s continued military rule, with junta leader Mahamat Idriss Deby recently being sworn in as president for a second time.

What else do we know so far?

Several parts of N’Djamena were barricaded, with police reportedly firing smoke and tear gas at protesters.

Schools and universities were shuttered during the uprising, with opposition groups such as the Transformers party lamenting the crackdown.

“They’re firing on us. They are killing our people,” Transformers party chief Succes Masra tweeted. He posted footage of what he said were gunshots being fired at ambulances.

Demonstrators set fire to the party headquarters of newly appointed Prime Minister Saleh Kebzabo.

“Our headquarters were ransacked and then set on fire this morning,” Celestin Topona, vice president of the National Union for Democracy and Renewal party, told Reuters by phone. “The guard was almost lynched by violent protesters.”

African Union Commission Chair Moussa Faki Mahamat denounced the “repression of demonstrations” by the junta. Mahamat earlier served as Chadian prime minister.

France has also condemned the crackdown and rebuked rumors that it was involved in the repression.

UN condemns lethal use of force

The UN has called for an investigation into the deaths.

“We deplore lethal use of force against protesters in Chad,” the UN rights office said in a tweet, urging transitional authorities to “ensure safety and protection of human rights, including freedom of expression and peaceful assembly”.

Crisis follows power vacuum left by late president

Chad has been thrown into turmoil following the death of Deby’s father, former President Idriss Deby Itno. The elder Deby was killed in 2021 during fighting with the Front for Change and Concord rebel group.

Idriss Deby Itno ruled the country for 30 years, after coming to power in a coup in 1990. He cracked down on the opposition and human rights during his tenure, with the Chadian economy also languishing under his rule.

The younger 38-year-old Deby took power in April 2021 and originally vowed a restoration of civilian rule in 18 months. Earlier this month, he reneged on his promise, delaying elections to October 2024 and becoming the country’s “transitional” president.

In addition to a political crisis and economic malaise, Chad is also experiencing devastating flooding, which is affecting over 1 million people in the impoverished country. Deby declared a state of emergency on Wednesday, to “better contain and manage this national disaster situation.”

Deby said the waters have “swallowed up more than 465,000 hectares of fields and 19,000 heads of livestock.” He called the situation “extremely worrying” and said the most at-risk areas are the capital and its surrounding regions.

(AFP, Reuters)

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