Anti-junta demonstrations erupted in Chad’s capital, N’Djamena, on Tuesday, with protesters demanding a return to civilian rule after the military seized power following the death of longtime leader Idriss Deby last week.
The riots have resulted in the deaths of at least two people. Anti-junta demonstrators attacked a bus in the capital, killing a woman, and a man was killed during protests in the country’s south.
In N’Djamena, protesters set fire to tires, prompting police to use tear gas.
On April 19, long-time chief Deby was assassinated while visiting troops fighting rebels. The president’s son, Mahamat Idriss Deby, was appointed the new head of state by a military transfer.
Several opposition leaders and civil society organizations described the change as a coup and urged Chadians to take to the streets in protest. The army named civilian politician Albert Pahimi Padacke as Prime Minister on Monday, but the opposition also opposed it.
Turn for Civilian rule
In a statement issued Monday, the military council declared demonstrations illegal.
“We are tired of monarchy in Chad. We’re tired. We just want France to free us from this problem,” protester Sandra in the capital said.
When the nation goes to an election in 18 months, the transition council says it will pass over leadership.
Chad has been a crucial partner in the war against jihadism in the region for the West. However, diplomatic pressure has mounted on the military council, France, the former colonial dictator, and some of Chad’s neighbors pressing for a civilian-military settlement.
The African Union has also voiced “grave concern” about the coup attempt.
Chad is home to a French military base where the region’s counterterrorism operations are based.
Chad has emerged as a key player in the war against militant groups and jihadist movements in recent years. The central African nation is heavily engaged in the Lake Chad basin, as well as protecting the so-called “three borders” region in the Sahel.
On Sunday, Chad’s new military transitional government said it would not bargain with the rebels accused of assassinating the country’s president, Idriss Deby.
The military spokesperson, Gen. Azem Bermandoa Agouma, said in a televised statement that the rebels were looking to work with “several groups of jihadists and traffickers who served as mercenaries in Libya.”
He said, “Faced with this situation that endangers Chad and the stability of the entire sub-region, this is not the time for mediation or negotiation with outlaws.”
On Sunday, the Fact rebel party announced that it would join other militant groups opposed to Deby’s son Mahamat Idriss Deby taking control of the country for 18 months ahead of new elections.