Protests erupt in N’Djamena as Chadians demand civilian rule | Chad

Protests have erupted in the Chadian capital and its second largest city as people demanded a return to civilian rule after the military took control after President Idriss Déby’s death on the battlefield last week.

The unrest in N’Djamena and Moundou on Tuesday underscores the increasingly tense atmosphere in Chad, where the military transition is struggling to win over a population exhausted by 30 years of monolithic rule.

A health official at a hospital in N’Djamena, who requested anonymity, said 28 people had been brought to its emergency ward with injuries, one of whom had died. Witnesses also reported the death of another protester in Moundou.

A spokesman for the ruling military council said security forces were attempting to contain the protesters while limiting material damage.

The military council seized power after Déby was killed as he visited troops fighting rebels on 19 April.

Some opposition politicians have called the military takeover a coup and asked supporters to protest, even as the army appointed a civilian politician, Albert Pahimi Padacké, as prime minister of a transitional government on Monday.

The military council banned protests on Monday evening, saying no demonstrations that could lead to disorder were allowed while the country was still in mourning.

The military council, led by Déby’s son Mahamat Idriss Déby who was declared president, has said it will oversee an 18-month transition to elections.

Timeline

Key dates in the life of Idriss Déby

Show

Birth

Born Idriss Déby in Berdoba, in the north-east of Chad, to a herder. A Muslim, he hails from the Zaghawa ethnic group.

Early career

After enrolling at the officers’ academy in the capital N’Djamena in the early 1970s, he heads to France, where he trains as a pilot. Returns in 1979.

Army chief

Becomes army chief after Hissène Habré comes to power.

Coup claim

Accused by Habré of plotting a coup, he flees to Sudan, where he assembles an armed rebel group, the Patriotic Salvation Movement.

Takes power

Seizes control when his troops roll into N’Djamena.

Elections

After six years of democratic transition, elected head of state in Chad’s first multiparty vote.

Re-elected

Re-elected amid mounting criticism from the opposition over alleged electoral fraud and rights violations.

Mutineers

Army mutineers gather in the east of the country, where they form several armed groups.

Rebel advance

Rebels storm the capital, reaching the gates of the presidential palace before being repelled with help from French troops.

Intervention

Sends troops to support French intervention in northern Mali to oust jihadists.

Boko Haram

Launches regional offensive in Cameroon, Nigeria and Niger against Boko Haram jihadists.

Re-election

Re-elected for a fifth term amid opposition cries of electoral fraud.

Coup attempt

Escapes with the help of French bombardment an attempt to overthrow him led by rebels who have come in from Libya.

New role

Named field marshal, the first in Chad’s history, after he leads an offensive against Boko Haram.

Sixth term

Re-elected to a sixth term after elections on 11 April.

Death

The army says he dies from wounds sustained when commanding his forces as they fought rebels who had launched a major incursion into the north of the country on election day.

Agence France-Presse

Police responded with teargas as protesters burned tyres in several neighbourhoods of N’Djamena. A witness said firefighters struggled to contain the blaze, which could be seen from several neighbourhoods away.

“We do not want our country to become a monarchy,” said Mbaidiguim Marabel, a 34-year-old protester. “The military must return to the barracks to make way for a civil transition.“

Trucks loaded with soldiers were seen patrolling the streets around central N’Djamena. “The police came, they fired teargas. But we are not scared,” said another witness, Timothy Betouge, 70.

The council is under international pressure to hand over power to civilians. The African Union has expressed “grave concern” about the military takeover, while France, the former colonial ruler, and some of Chad’s neighbours are pushing for a civilian-military solution.

Anti-French sentiment was running high among the protesters, who blamed France for having backed the Déby regime against the will of the people. Posts on social media showed protesters burning a French flag.

Reuters reporters in N’Djamena were repeatedly berated by protesters who assumed they were French and told them to “go back to France”. The reporters saw businesses with French connections, such as a Total fuel station, being targeted by protesters.

Déby’s death came as Chad’s military battles an insurrection by Libya-based rebels known as the Front for Change and Concord in Chad. The rebels came as close as 125-185 miles (200-300km) from N’Djamena before being pushed back by the army.

Chad’s military council rejected an offer from the rebels for peace talks on Sunday, calling them “outlaws” who needed to be tracked down and arrested for their role in Déby’s death.

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