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At Least 50 Dead as Chadian Anti-Junta Demonstrators Clash With Military Police Forces

© Sputnik ScreenshotPrime Minister of Chad, Saleh Kebzabo
Prime Minister of Chad, Saleh Kebzabo - Sputnik International, 1920, 20.10.2022
The Chadian government has worked closely with France, its former colonial ruler, in its sprawling trans-Sahelian “War on Terror” style campaign, hosting its headquarters since 2014. However, other regional nations have seen their populations rebel against that war, including Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso.
Dozens of protesters were killed during clashes with Chadian police on Thursday, the Chadian government said, amid demonstrations against the lengthy transition period the military government recently announced for the resumption of civilian rule in the central African country.
Chadian Prime Minister Saleh Kebzabo told reporters that “around 50” protesters had been killed and at least 300 injured in the demonstrations, which were banned by the military government and repressed by police.
Most of the deaths reportedly occurred in the capital city of N’Djamena, in the country’s west, and the southern cities of Moundou and Koumra. Kebzabo announced an overnight curfew that would be in place until the "total restoration of order" in those areas.

Thursday was supposed to be the final day of 18 months of military rule, which assumed power following the April 2021 death in battle of longtime leader President Idriss Déby Itno. His 38-year-old son, Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno, took over as president in what critics said was against the Chadian constitution. The legislature and existing government were then dissolved.

However, earlier this month, the Transitional Military Council, formed by 15 generals and headed by Déby, declared Déby the country’s interim president for another two years, which it said was the time needed to prepare free and democratic elections.
"They shoot at us. They are killing our people. The soldiers of the only general who refused to honor his word and today is the end of 18 months, this is how he intends to install the dynasty by killing the people," tweeted Succès Masra, Chadian economist and leader of the opposition group Les Transformateurs (The Transformers). His tweet included presumed photos of several dead Chadian demonstrators.
Local journalists reported that protesters attacked government buildings, set fire to automobiles and shops, and constructed barricades in the streets.
Many Chadians reportedly believe that France, the former colonial ruler, which has repeatedly meddled and intervened in Chadian politics, is connected to the violence. In a statement on Thursday, the French Foreign Ministry condemned “the use of lethal weapons against demonstrators," but added that "France is not playing any part in these events, which lie strictly in Chad’s domestic political domain."

“False information about France’s purported involvement is baseless," the ministry added. Paris worked closely with the elder Déby during his 30 years of rule, and welcomed the rise of the younger Déby following his father's death in battle with rebel groups. France's base of operations for its War on Terror-style campaign across the Sahel, Operation Barkhane and later Task Force Takuba, were both located in N'Djamena.

Kebazo, a former journalist and longtime critic of the elder Déby’s rule, welcomed his son’s rise to power as well. After the younger Déby was sworn in as interim president last week, he appointed Kebazo as head of government. Kebazo promised to "accompany" the young Déby "in a great endeavour - the next two years of political transition,” and to steer the country toward a more liberal form of society.
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