Unrest erupts in N'Djamena as Chadian protesters demand civilian rule

Military council faces demonstrations despite choosing civilian prime minister to lead transitional government

Members of the Chadian security forces patrol the capital N'Djamena on Tuesday. Reuters
Members of the Chadian security forces patrol the capital N'Djamena on Tuesday. Reuters

Chad's capital N'Djamena was rocked by violent protests on Tuesday as demonstrators took to the streets to demand a return to civilian rule after the military took control following president Idriss Deby's death last week.

The unrest highlighted the tense atmosphere in Chad after Deby was killed as he visited troops fighting against rebels on April 19.

The military council is already struggling to win over a population exhausted by 30 years of monolithic rule.

Some opposition politicians said the military takeover was a coup and asked supporters to hold protests, even after the army appointed a civilian politician, Albert Pahimi Padacke, as prime minister of a transitional government on Monday.

The council banned protests and said no demonstrations that could lead to disorder were allowed while the country was in mourning.

The council, led by new president and Deby's son Mahamat Idriss Deby, said it would oversee an 18-month transition to elections.

Police used with tear gas as protesters burnt tyres in several districts in N'Djamena early on Tuesday. A witness said firefighters struggled to contain the blaze.

"We do not want our country to become a monarchy," said protester Mbaidiguim Marabel, 34. "The military must return to the barracks to make way for a civil transition."

Lorries carrying soldiers patrolled the streets around central N'Djamena.

"The police came, they fired tear gas. But we are not scared," said Timothy Betouge, 70.

The council is coming under international pressure to hand over power to civilians as soon as possible.

The African Union expressed "grave concern" about the military takeover, while France, the former colonial ruler of the country, and some of Chad's neighbours are pushing for a civilian-military solution.

Deby's death came as Chad's military battles an insurrection by a rebel group known as the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (Fact). The rebels came between 200 to 300 kilometres from N'Djamena before being pushed back by the army.

The military council rejected an offer from the rebels for peace talks on Sunday, calling themoutlaws who must be tracked down and arrested for their role in Deby's death.

Updated: April 27, 2021 04:00 PM

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