At least five people were killed Tuesday in sporadic protests in N’Djamena and southern Chad against the junta that took power after the death of President Idriss Déby Itno a week ago.
General Mahamat Idriss Déby, the regime’s new strongman, promised in a televised speech broadcast at midday to organise “an inclusive national dialogue” during an 18-month transition period.
“Chad will continue to hold its ground and assume its responsibilities in the fight against terrorism and will respect all its international commitments,” said the new president of Chad, a strategic country in the fight against jihadists in the Sahel.
The son of the late president did not mention the demonstrations once in this statement.
“In total, four people died in N’Djamena,” including a woman “killed by the demonstrators,” Youssouf Tom, the capital’s prosecutor, told AFP. Earlier in the day, his counterpart in Moundou, Chad’s second city, some 400km south of N’Djamena, also confirmed the death of a protester.
“There has been a death in Moundou, died this morning in the demonstrations, we do not yet have the exact circumstances of the death, it is a young 21 years, “said by phone to AFP Ali Kolla Brahim.
The police shot the young man after he threw a stone at their car, Ahmat Malloum, a senior official in charge of the state media in Moundou, told AFP.
According to a local NGO, the Chadian Convention for the Defence of Human Rights (CTDDH), nine people were killed, seven in N’Djamena, two others in Moundou.
As his father Marshal Déby, who ruled the country with an iron fist for three decades, did systematically, Mahamat Idriss Déby, who took the head of a Military Council of Transition (CMT), had banned the demonstrations on Tuesday. The opposition and civil society, who denounce an “institutional coup” and a “dynastic succession” to power, had called for these rallies.
– Paris condemns the repression –
In Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron “condemned in the strongest terms the repression” and called for “a peaceful, democratic and inclusive transition”.
He was the only Western head of state to attend Mr Déby’s funeral in N’Djamena on Friday. In a joint statement with the G5 Sahel countries (Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, in addition to Chad), he had expressed his support for the “civil-military transition process”.
France considers Chad as its main military ally in the fight against jihadists in the Sahel. On Tuesday, at least 12 Chadian soldiers were killed in an attack by jihadists on an army position in the Lake Chad region in the west of the country, according to the local governor.
In N’Djamena on Tuesday, groups of dozens of people gathered in the morning, trying to avoid the ever-present police who dispersed them with tear gas grenades, according to AFP journalists.
The calm had returned in late morning in the capital, after scuffles.
– “governing in blood” –
The government is not prepared to accept the new government’s demands for a new government,” said a woman at a small rally in N’Djamena, “We are fed up, fed up, fed up with the monarchical dynasty in Chad”. The detonation of tear gas grenades could be heard here and there.
“The military have announced the colour: to govern in blood. The forces of order fired live ammunition at young people to repress a peaceful march,” tweeted Saleh Kebzabo, the historic opponent of Idriss Déby Itno.
As soon as the army announced Idriss Déby Itno’s death in battle against rebels in the north, his son Mahamat, a lieutenant general and head of the presidential guard, abrogated the constitution and dissolved the government and the national assembly, promising “free and democratic elections” in 18 months.
On the steps of the Elysee Palace in Paris, Mr. Macron also assured Tuesday that he was “not for a succession plan” at the head of Chad. At his side, Felix Tshisekedi, the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and current chairman of the African Union (AU), also asked the CMT to “return to democratic order very quickly”.