The United States and United Kingdom governments have warned their citizens against travelling to or remaining in the Republic of Chad after a fresh wave of armed violence followed the conduct of presidential elections.
A convoy belonging to the armed rebel group, Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT), had crossed into the Central African country from Libya on Sunday, April 11, and engaged government security forces. The following Saturday, the rebels proceeded southwest apparently in the direction of the capital, N’Djamena.
Chad had conducted its latest presidential election on April 11. The incumbent president, Idriss Déby, has been in office since 1990 when he led a rebellion against and seized power from former President Hissène Habré.
Though official results are not expected until Sunday, April 25, some of the provisional results indicate that Déby is set to be sworn into office again for another five-year term. The election was held amid controversy with opposition leaders calling for the electorate to boycott and attacks from Libya-based rebels.
Updating its travel advisory on Saturday, the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) urged “British nationals in Chad to leave the country by commercial means as soon as possible following the movement of an armed convoy of rebel vehicles towards N’Djamena.” It also advised against travelling to the country based on its security assessment.
“During this period, you should be vigilant and avoid any demonstrations or large gatherings of people. If you become aware of any nearby protests leave the area immediately,” the government agency stated on its website.
“You should keep yourself informed of developments through local media. Security forces are on heightened alert owing to the ongoing Presidential election, and the reported fighting in Tibesti between Chadian armed forces and rebels of the Front pour l’alternance et la concorde au Tchad.”
A similar warning was issued by the U.S. which on Saturday ordered that non-emergency government employees and their families left the country.
“Do not travel to Chad due to civil unrest and armed violence. Reconsider travel due to COVID-19, crime, terrorism, kidnapping, and minefields,” stated the Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs.
Meanwhile, Chad’s army spokesperson Chérif Mahamat Zene said yesterday that the security forces had destroyed a group of rebels that had attacked the northern region. “The adventure of the mercenaries from Libya ended as announced. Congratulations to our valiant defense and security forces,” he tweeted.
The rebel group, FACT, was formed in 2016 by dissident army officers and has accused Déby of suppressing the will of the people, describing the election as a “masquerade.”
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