World

Chadian leader blames protest organizers for civilian deaths


N’DJAMENA, Chad – Chad’s interim leader Mahamat Idriss Deby on Monday said organizers of protests against his two-year extension of power had shown “the will to start a civil war”, marking the His first speech since a violent crackdown on protesters left dozens dead across the country.

The speech, broadcast live on national radio and television, came four days after witnesses said security forces had fired live bullets at protesters in the capital N’Djamena and in the city. the country’s second largest, Moundou.

The opposition said more than 70 protesters were killed, while a government spokesman and a morgue official put the total at 62. The unprecedented violence against protesters drew swift condemnation from abroad.

Deby, who has been in power since his father’s death in April 2021, defended the crackdown on Monday night and blamed those who had organized anti-government protests.

“These are not simple protests that have been controlled, but a real uprising meticulously planned to create chaos in the country,” Deby said in his speech.

Human rights groups say the protesters are unarmed and the use of force is disproportionate. However, Deby told Chadians that the organizers of the protests “should bear heavy responsibility for the October 20 murders.”

“They recruit and use terrorist and paramilitary groups to carry out unprovoked mass killings,” he said.

“I will use all lawful means at my disposal to stop these plans that are harmful to our country,” he added.

Deby’s father, the late President Idriss Deby Itno, led Chad for more than three decades. He died after being attacked by insurgents while visiting his troops on the northern front line, officials said.

Last Thursday marked what would end Chad’s 18-month transition, but the government recently announced that Deby would be in power for another two years instead. Protests were held in five cities across the country on Thursday.

“The fight we are waging is for justice and equality for 17 million Chadians by disrupting this armed dynasty that serves 3% of the people,” said prominent opposition leader Succes Masra after the protests. deadly protests, accusing the government of trying to “create civil war. “

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Associated Press writer Krista Larson of Dakar, Senegal contributed.

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