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Chad opposition figures begin second week in detention

AFP , Friday 25 Nov 2016
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Eleven Chadian opposition activists remain in detention a week after being arrested during a banned rally in the capital N'Djamena, a legal source said Friday.

The arrests were made on November 17 during an attempt by the opposition to defy a ban by President Idriss Deby's government on a demonstration organised as public anger soared over the nation's growing economic crisis.

Those still detained include party leaders Mahamat Bechir Barh and Gapili Godebne, who are being investigated for "taking part in an unauthorised assembly", the source said.

"They have been placed under a warrant and are awaiting trial but the legal clerks are on strike, which suspends everything," a spokesman for the UNDR main opposition party, told AFP.

"They have the moral high ground and are determined more than ever to defend the will of our people," one of their supporters, Abdelkerim Yacoub Koundougoumi, said onTwitter.

The arrests were made last week when demonstrators tried to march towards a stadium after holding a public meeting at the UNDR headquarters.

The stadium was cordoned off by security forces, who stopped the protesters from entering. The authorities originally arrested around 30 protesters, according to another opposition leader.

The ministry of interior and public security had warned days earlier that the planned protest was banned.

Opposition MPs had been seeking to hold the government of Prime Minister Albert Pahimi Padacke to account over its alleged mismanagement of the nation's economy.

Like its neighbour, oil giant Nigeria, Chad is undergoing a severe financial crisis as a result of the slump in the price of crude.

The opposition is also critical of the political situation under Deby's iron-fisted rule.

A key ally of France in the regional fight against Islamist militants, Deby was swept back into power in April with 60 percent of votes. Kebzabo, his main rival, won just over 12 percent.

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