Chad government on alert after attack on security services

AFP , Thursday 29 Feb 2024

A "general search" of vehicles and passersby was under way late Wednesday in Chad's capital after gunfire erupted near an opposition party's headquarters.

chad
General view of a street in N Djamena on February 29, 2024 as a general search of vehicles and passersby was under way late Wednesday in Chad s capital .AFP

 

he sound of automatic weapons fire earlier in the day prompted people to leave the area in the centre of N'Djamena where the Socialist Party Without Borders' (PSF) main office had been surrounded by the army.

Presidential guard trucks were also seen headed towards the party HQ, an AFP journalist saw.

The government has accused the party of being responsible for a deadly attack earlier in the week on the internal security agency.

PSF head Yaya Dillo, a fierce opponent of Chad's transitional president, his cousin Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, denied any involvement in the Tuesday night attack, which left several people dead.

Speaking to AFP, he called the accusation a "lie", saying: "I wasn't present".

"The desired goal is to prevent me, to physically eliminate me... to make me afraid so that I don't go to the election," Dillo said.

The attack came a day after the announcement that Chad will hold a presidential election on May 6, which both Deby Itno and Dillo intend to contest.

"Anyone looking to disturb the democratic process under way in the country will be prosecuted and brought to justice," the government said Wednesday.

The UN special representative for Central Africa said in a statement he was following events "with great concern" and called on "all stakeholders to show calm and restraint".

Prime Minister Succes Masra spoke of "unfortunate and painful moments" in a post on the social media platform X.

Masra, a former opposition leader recently appointed by the transitional president, "expressed his total and unconditional support for the head of state" and the defence forces.

Since around midday Wednesday, the phone networks and internet were disrupted, according to AFP journalists.

The attack on the security offices came after a PSF member was arrested and accused of an "assassination attempt against the president of the supreme court", a government statement said.

"The situation is now completely under control," the government said.

"The perpetrators of this act have been arrested or are being sought and will be prosecuted."

Dillo had earlier also condemned the allegations of an attempted attack against the supreme court president as "staged".

 New constitution

Deby Itno was proclaimed transitional president after his father, Idriss Deby Itno, was killed while fighting rebels in 2021.

The elder Deby Itno had come to power in a 1990 coup and ruled with an iron fist for three decades.

Mahamat Deby Itno promised to hand power back to civilians and organise elections within 18 months, but subsequently added another two years of transition.

The end of the transition period was pushed back to October 10 this year.

The opposition has asked the transitional president not to run for office in the central African country, which is the second-least developed in the world, according to the United Nations.

Leading opposition and civil society grouping Wakit Tamma has accused the international community, and former colonial ruler France in particular, of supporting "dynastic succession".

Dillo was a candidate for the presidency in 2021 against his uncle, Idriss Deby Itno.

He fled the country in February of that year after security forces attempted to arrest him at his home.

The commando-style raid left several dead including his mother and one of his sons.

He was accused by the regime of Idriss Deby Itno of making corruption accusations against the first lady.

In mid-January, the ruling (MPS) party designated the transitional leader as its candidate for the presidential election.

He had told the African Union he would not run, but a constitution adopted in a December referendum allows him to do so.

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