Wakit Tamma Leaders Arrested In Chad Over Protest

The citizens coalition leaders were arrested for organising a protest on May 14, 2022, which according to Chadian authorities led to destruction of public and private facilities.

Five leaders of the citizen coalition, Wakit Tamma, who organised the May 14, 2022 mass protests in the Chadian capital, N’Djamena, have been arrested.

Hissien Massar Hissien, a former minister, was among those arrested. 

“The five leaders of the protest who have been arrested are being held at the headquarters of the domestic security service,” a security informed HumAngle. 

Max Loalngar, the founder of Wakit Tamma, who was summoned by the police, said they organised the protest to end the French presence in their country, adding that the five arrested persons were not involved in the acts of vandalism.

“They have been wrongfully arrested,”Loalngar said.

“The police cleared out the main demonstration area and sporadic demonstrations then broke out afterwards — we are not responsible,” he added.

During the demonstrations, some French-owned structures were attacked including seven Total petrol stations. But all the French outfits attacked were not within the authorised itinerary of the demonstration granted by the ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC).

Meanwhile, there have been calls for their immediate release.

Barrister Yonoudjim Yannick of the Chadian Bar Association is of the opinion that “if we go by the itinerary authorised by the government, it seems to me that the itinerary was observed”.

“Even if there were other protests in other towns, the violence took place out of the authorised itinerary followed by the Wakit Tamma protesters,” Yannick argued.

“In my opinion, if these destructions took place along the itinerary of the protest, we can hold the leaders of Wakit Tamma responsible. But since the destruction took place out of the itinerary, their responsibility is disputable.”

The lawyer held that since the installation of the Transitional Military Council, the judicial regime that guides demonstrations is not legal.

“It must be noted that since the advent of the political transition, unfortunately, demonstrations are conducted within the context of a communique dated May 7, 2021. I want to say here that when we talk of peaceful demonstrations, it is a fundamental right, thus they must not be guided by a communique nor a regulatory act but by a law. A communique has no judicial value,” he said.

General Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, Chad’s self-proclaimed transitional president, called for an end to the disturbances and to rumours that France planned to redeploy troops to Chad.

Chad has been under military rule since his father, President Idriss Deby Itno, was killed in April 2021, during operations to crush rebels in the north of the country.

The younger Deby, a four-star general, took the helm at the head of a 15-member group of senior officers.

The takeover was widely accepted by Western countries, led by the former colonial power France, which sees Chad as a close ally in its fight against jihadists in the Sahel.

Several opposition parties have called for the release of those arrested.

Hundreds took part in the demonstration after which the Wakit Tamma leaders were arrested and at least two French flags were burned.

On Monday, May 16, 2022, a demonstration gathering hundreds of high-school students, many of them chanting “France out,” was dispersed by police in N’Djamena.

There were no arrests or casualties among the students, a police official revealed.

Late Sunday, Abderamane Koullamallah, Communications Minister condemned the violence the previous day as “extremely serious… people will be held to account for their acts”.

At a security meeting on Monday, Deby said: “It is time for this to stop. It is also time to stop the false and unfounded allegations circulating about French forces redeploying inside the country.”

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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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