By Vatican News staff writer
At least five people have been killed, and several dozens injured in Chad on Tuesday, in protests demanding the country’s transitional military government transfer power back to civilians.
Tensions have been mounting in the north-central African country since the death of President Idriss Deby Itno on 19 April, while he was visiting troops fighting rebels north of the capital, N’Djamena. Deby had ruled the country for three decades.
Following Deby’s death, a military council headed by his son, Mahamat Idriss Deby, took control of the country, drawing immediate criticism from political opponents and resistance from some Chadians. The military council has said that it will oversee an 18-month transition to elections.
Protests in spite of banned demonstrations
Defying a ban on protests imposed by the military during a period of national mourning for the late president, demonstrators swarmed the streets on Tuesday, carrying signs demanding a transition to civilian rule.
Security forces were deployed to maintain order and limit material damage. Trucks loaded with soldiers patrolled the streets of central Ndjamena and tear gas was used to disperse groups of demonstrators, some of whom burned tyres on the streets.
Concerns amid power transition
Chad’s Transitional Military Council (TMC) has been coming under international pressure from several quarters.
In a statement released on 22 April, the Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU) expressed its deep concern “about the evolving situation in Chad and the potential threat to peace, security and stability.”
The AU also expressed “grave concern with respect to the establishment of the Military Transitional Council” and urged Chadian defense and security forces to “respect the constitutional mandate and order, and to expeditiously embark on a process of restoration of constitutional order and handing over of political power to the civilian authorities, in accordance with to the relevant provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of Chad, and create conducive conditions for a swift, peaceful, constitutional and smooth transition.”
France, the former colonial ruler of Chad, condemned on Tuesday the crackdown on protesters in Chad during the demonstrations. French President Emmanuel Macron said that he remained in favor of a peaceful transition in Chad and that France would collaborate with international partners to improve the situation in the country.
Meanwhile, Mahamat Deby, in his first official address on Tuesday as the new military transitional leader said that the council was set up to face the absolute urgency of defending the nation and ensure the continuity of the state in order to guarantee national cohesion.
He also promised inclusive national dialogue and assured the nation’s allies that Chad will maintain its responsibilities in the fight against extremism and respect all of its international commitments.