Chadian government suspends 7 political parties after deadly protests

N’DJAMENA – The N’Chad government cracked down on the country’s opposition on Friday, suspending seven political parties and raiding party offices a day after unprecedented protests across the country left more than 60 people dead.

Prominent opposition leader Succes Masra tweeted that his party’s national headquarters, Les Transformateurs, “were ransacked by security forces who forced their way in”.

“After shooting 70 people, arresting, wounding and torturing more than 1,000 others, they are now attacking buildings and documents,” he tweeted.

Masra’s party was listed first among the seven parties suspended by the Chadian government for a period of three months. The decree covers all political activities across the country.

Demonstrators in the capital N’Djamena and several other cities took to the streets on Thursday to protest interim leader Mahamat Idriss Deby extending his term for another two years.

Deby became head of an interim government when his father, former President Idriss Deby Itno, died in April 2021 after more than 30 years in power. Mahamat Idriss Deby initially agreed to an 18-month transition, a term that would have ended on Thursday.

However, the government recently announced that he would stay in power for another two years, sparking the protests. According to eyewitnesses, security forces fired live ammunition at the demonstrators in N’Djamena after tear gas was used. A government spokesman confirmed 30 dead, although activists put the number higher.

In the country’s second-largest city, Moundou, a morgue official said there had been 32 deaths following a similar crackdown on protests there. He spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.

Prime Minister Saleh Kebzabo later defended the government’s use of force, telling reporters the riots were “an attempted coup”.

The deadly response drew swift rebukes from France, the United States, and others. The head of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, said he strongly condemned “the repression of the demonstrations”.

“I urge the parties to respect human life and property and favor peaceful means to resolve the crisis,” he tweeted.

Thursday’s unrest was unprecedented in Chad, where there was little public dissent during Deby’s father’s previous regime. Officials said the late Deby was killed by rebels while visiting his troops on the battlefield.

Several demonstrations have taken place since his son became interim leader. According to Amnesty International, security forces shot civilians in two other cases.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission. Chadian government suspends 7 political parties after deadly protests

Sarah Y. Kim

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