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Chad’s president, Idriss Deby, after his meeting with French President Francois Holland at the Elysee Palace, Paris, May 14, 2015 (AP photo by Michel Euler).

Deby Set to Keep Power in Chad Election, but Discontent Is Growing

Friday, April 8, 2016

With just days to go before presidential elections in Chad on Sunday, civil society groups are continuing to call for people to take to the streets despite a ban on demonstrations. On April 5, a small number of protesters, including members of two citizen groups—Ca Suffit, or That’s Enough, and Trop C’est trop, Enough is Enough—succeeded in holding a brief demonstration on Rue Felix Eboue in the center of Chad’s capital, N’Djamena, despite a strong police presence. The protesters were calling for an end to the country’s political stagnation ahead of the election, as well as for the release of five leading activists who have been arrested in the past two weeks, including prominent dissident Albissaty Saleh Allazam. More attempts to take to the street can be expected ahead of the vote.

This week’s actions follow a remarkable social movement that broke out in February in response to the alleged rape of a teenage girl by a gang that included relatives of several high-profile figures, among them the son of the country’s foreign minister. Chad’s political opposition and strong labor union movement skillfully capitalized on those protests, which proved to be a conduit for visceral anger about the privileges enjoyed by those close to President Idriss Deby and his inner circle. Since Deby came to power in 1990, his family members and Bideyat Zaghawa clansmen have been able to dominate key positions in business and government. The recent demonstrations continued for nearly two weeks, even with a heavy security force presence and the death of at least one protester. ...

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