Troubled Chad under microscope at Central African summit

Troubled Chad under microscope at Central African summit

Dozens of people died during last Thursday's protests
Dozens of people died during last Thursday's protests. Photo: - / AFP
Source: AFP

Eleven leaders from Central Africa gathered in Kinshasa on Tuesday to discuss the troubles in Chad, where dozens were killed last week during protests at the military's grip on power.

The summit of the Economic Community of Central African States is focussing on Chad's "political transition process," ECCAS said in a statement, referring to plans to return the country to civilian rule.

Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi's office, quoting what it described as a "source close to the (ECCAS) organisation," said the talks were likely to appoint a mediator in the process.

The meeting comes days after clashes between Chadian police and protestors in which 50 people died, including a dozen members of the security forces, according to a government toll.

Chad, an ECCAS member, is being represented by Mahamat Idriss Deby, who was appointed "transitional president" by a national forum earlier this month.

The 38-year-old five-star general has been in power since his iron-fisted father, Idriss Deby Itno, was killed in an operation against rebels in April 2021.

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His junta initially vowed to hold elections within 18 months -- a deadline that has now been extended by two years.

Deby also once pledged not to be a candidate in the future ballot, but the national forum declared he was entitled to take part.

Tshisekedi, in an opening speech to the summit, called last week's bloodshed a "dramatic mistake."

Hopes for national consensus, which had been the purported goal of the Chadian forum, "seem to have shattered," he said.

"The political crisis... has unfortunately revived," Tshisekedi said.

"The task now is to get the transition back on track," he said, before initiating talks behind closed doors.

Chad
Chad. Photo: Vincent LEFAI / AFP
Source: AFP

Thursday's protests had been called by opposition campaigners to mark the date when Chad's junta had promised to hand over power.

But in a televised address late Monday, Deby said a "meticulously prepared insurrection" had taken place with the "support of foreign powers," which he did not name.

A Geneva-based NGO, the World Organization against Torture (OMCT), earlier reported at least 80 deaths in a provisional casualty toll in N'Djamena and four southern towns -- Moundou, Doba, Koumra and Bebedjia.

"Young people were reportedly summarily executed there this morning (Monday)," the OMCT said, adding that hundreds had been arrested, and some tortured.

The African Union (AU) and European Union (EU) last week issued statements strongly condemning the crackdown and attacking violation of freedom of speech and assembly.

Source: AFP

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