Chad violence sparks new political fears for Africa

Members of the security forces patrol Chad's capital N'Djamena in this file picture.

Members of the security forces patrol Chad's capital N'Djamena in this file picture.

Photo credit: Reuters

The outbreak of violence in Chad has plunged Africa into a new crisis, just when it thought the existing crises were enough of a burden.

The chairman of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, deplored the violence in his country between Wednesday and Thursday, which left several people dead, including the leader of an opposition party.

The central African country has been on edge since the army opened fire in the capital, N'Djamena, on Wednesday, killing and wounding some opposition members.

The government said 'several people' had been killed when the army repelled activists of the Socialist Party Without Borders (PSF) who had attacked the country's internal security agency after an altercation with a party member.

PSF leader Yaya Dillo was among those killed on Thursday, according to Oumar Kedellaye, prosecutor at the N'Djamena High Court.

 “I learned with deep pain of the tragic death of our brother Yaya Dillo Djerou, president of the Socialist Party Without Borders of Chad,” Faki Mahamat said in a statement on his personal account on X, formerly Twitter.

“I offer my saddened condolences to his family and his party activists. That his soul rests in peace.”

In a statement on the situation, the AU Commission said the chairperson profoundly regretted the incident and reiterated calls for peaceful settlement of disagreements.

“The president of the Commission reiterates the immutable principle of the African Union, that of the peaceful settlement of differences and, on this occasion, the imperative need for Chad to reconnect in an authentic way with the inclusive dialogue of all political, social, civil and military forces for a future of stability, democracy and shared prosperity,” the continental body said in the statement.

The government said the attack on the National Agency for State Security (ANSE) came after an opposition party member, Ahmed Torabi, was arrested and accused of attempting to assassinate the president of the country's Supreme Court.

Shot dead

Jebren Issa, a Chadian journalist who has covered local politics but is now based in Rwanda, said PSF members and relatives of Torabi stormed ANSE headquarters to retrieve his body when they learned he had also been shot dead and troops opened fire on the group on Wednesday morning.

Chad is in a volatile region, with three of its neighbours, Niger, the Central African Republic and Sudan, all facing internal crises ranging from coups to wars and general instability. Chad is also technically under a junta.

The attack came hours after the country's electoral body announced the organisation of presidential elections - the first in the country since the junta took power in April 2021, after rebels killed the former president in a battle in the north of the country.

Both junta leaders, Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno and Yaya Dillo, were expected to stand in the two-round election scheduled for May and June, with provisional results expected on July 7.

According to the Libya-based Front for Change and Concord in Chad, usually referred to by its French acronym FACT, Dillo's assassination, exactly three years after his mother's, was intended to prevent him from vying in the said election. On February 28, 2021, Chadian forces killed Dillo's mother while trying to arrest the politician at his home in N'Djamena.

 “That is how the military junta in its madness of grandeur, to validate its dynastic devolution, wants to choose its supporters to accompany it in its supposed presidential election on May 6”, FACT said in a statement saluting the politician’s bravery and sang-froid before his assassination.

The group said the crime will not go unpunished. “Sooner or later, perpetrators will face justice,” FACT said calling on all the living forces of the nation, Chadians who love peace and justice to say no to the junta without any complacency.