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HUNDREDS of people took to the streets in Chad on Thursday to demand a return to democracy as they staged the first protest for months against the country’s ruling military junta.
The demonstration was led by a number of civil society groups and the opposition movement known as the Transformers against what they called “the confiscation of power” by Chad’s armed forces.
The military seized power in April following the mysterious death of president Idriss Deby Itno, who is said to have succumbed to wounds inflicted on the battlefield by armed insurgents.
He was replaced by his son Mahamat Idriss Deby, who has surrounded himself with 14 generals forming the so-called Transitional Military Council (TMC), a move described as unconstitutional by opposition forces.
Much of the anger during Thursday’s protest was directed at former colonial power France, whose President Emmanuel Macron has been the only world leader to recognise the new regime.
“France has to choose the Chadian people as its partner in dialogue, not just a small group of individuals, otherwise it will be the eternal enemy of the Chadian people,” said Max Loalngar, spokesman for the Wakit Tamma opposition group.
The military junta has promised to hold elections after an 18-month transitional period.
Opposition forces, however, remain sceptical and fear for the future of democracy in the north-central African nation.
The protest in the capital N’Djamena was the first allowed by the TMC since it came to power, with a heavy military presence deployed along the route of the march.
The demonstration passed off without incident, unlike protests in April which saw more than 700 people detained.
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