Thousands of Chadians over the weekend embarked on anti-French protests launched by the opposition coalition Wakit Tama on Saturday, May 14.
Protesters are against France’s military presence in the country as well as interim President Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno, who has been in charge since his father died in 2021.
They are said to have targeted “symbols” of their old colonial power, such as several Total gas stations.
Students dominated the rally, with many riding motorcycles and screaming “France get out.”
“Now France is meddling in politics, we don’t know, now the whole Chadian territory is occupied by the French army. The French army is concerned with the wealth of Chad’s subsoil and not with the well-being of the Chadian people.” Souleyman Tahir, a protester said.
Idriss Déby Itno, the country’s former president, ran an authoritarian dictatorship for 30 years before being slain in battle on April 20, 2021, during a rebellion in the country’s north.
Hundreds of protestors came to the streets of the capital and neighboring towns in an anti-French rally that resulted in the destruction of some French-linked shops. Chadian police shot tear gas and used water canon to disperse them.
The rally was organised by the Chadian civil society alliance Wakit Tamma to oppose France’s support for the Transitional Military Council, which seized power after President Idriss Deby was killed on the battlefield in April 2021.
As France’s authority in its former colonies dwindles, recent protests in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger have called for stronger military ties with Russia rather than France.
Chad is seen as a key Western ally in the region’s struggle against insurgency. A number of Western countries, including France, have troops stationed in the country.
The capital of Chad serves as the regional command center for France’s counter-terrorism mission in West Africa. Around 1,000 French troops are stationed there.
Last week, the French embassy refuted a rumor that France was intending to build new military sites in Chad, describing it as a propaganda attempt.
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