Journalist And Policemen Among 50 Dead In Protests Against Delay of Elections In Chad

Protestors took to the streets to demonstrate against the extension of the military junta in what the prime minister called it an “armed uprising”.

A journalist and ten policemen are among 50 people reported killed as Chadians came out en masse to protest against the extension of transitional military council headed by General Mahamat Idriss Deby.

Oredje Narcisse, a journalist working for Radio Cefod was cut down by bullets fired by soldiers of the Chadian army as he was covering the protests in the Chagoua quarter of the capital N’Djamena on Thursday Oct 20.

Prime Minister Saleh Kebzabo said the protests had quickly become an “armed uprising”. 

“What happened today is an armed popular uprising to seize power by force and those responsible for this violence will face justice,” he told a press conference, “The security forces responded only in self-defence”.

Nearly 300 had been confirmed wounded, but the final toll had not yet been compiled, he said.  

The first policeman who died was wounded early yesterday morning and hurriedly rushed to the hospital by his colleagues. Nine other security operatives were killed during the course of the day. 

The protests came on the last day of the 18-month mandate of the military junta headed by Mahamat Deby, son of former military strongman Idris Deby. 

At the beginning of October it was announced that the return of elections would be delayed by a further two years.

The announcement was made at the conclusion of a “national dialogue” conference that began in August.

Demonstrations were banned by the military junta and have been violently suppressed by the Chadian armed forces.

The Chadian Minister of Communication and government spokesperson, Aziz Mahamat Saleh, said the protests “were transformed into an insurrection with a heavy death toll”.

The protesters attacked public edifices including the Governor’s office, the 9th district police station and the headquarters of the National Union for Democracy and Renewal (UNDR) of transitional Prime Minister Kebzabo.

The head office of the Rassemblement Natonal pour la Democratie au Tchad (RNDT), the party of former transitional Prime Minister Albert Pahimi Padacke was also attacked and looted, as well as the residence of the President of the National Transitional Council (CNT).

There has been generalised international and national condemnation of the violence by governments and international organisations including the Federation Internationale des Drots de l’Homme (FIDH) and the Ligue Tchadienne des Droits de l’Homme (LTDH).

In a tweet, the FIDH called for the immediate stop to “the ongoing violent repression of the demonstrators in N’Djamena, Sarh, Doba, Koumra, Abeche and Moundou by the security forces”.

The President of the African Union Commission, Moussa Fako `Mahamat, himself a Chadian, also “firmly condemned the repression of demonstrators resulting in the deaths of people in Chad” and called on the parties to respect human lives and properties as well as give preference to peaceful means towards resolving the crisis.

France also condemned the violence through a communique by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“Violence took place this morning in Chad, with notably the use of lethal arms against protesters, which France condemns”, the Quai d’Orsay declared, affirming that France is “playing no role in these unfortunate events”.

Opposition parties and the civil society organised yesterday’s demonstrations to protest against the prolongation of the duration of the Chadian transitional government by two years.

The current junta leader, General Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, took over power following the death of his father, General Idriss Deby Itno, on April 20, 2021 – exactly eighteen months to the day – at the war front. He had ruled the country for 30 years.

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Chief Bisong Etahoben

Chief Bisong Etahoben is a Cameroonian investigative journalist and traditional ruler. He writes for international media and has participated in several transnational investigations. Etahoben won the first-ever Cameroon Investigative Journalist Award in 1992. He serves as a member of a number of international investigative journalism professional bodies including the Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR). He is HumAngle's Francophone and Central Africa editor.

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