According to the top prosecutor and lawyers, hundreds of alleged rebels accused of assassinating former President of Chad, Idriss Deby Itno went on trial today. The proceedings will take place behind closed doors at Klessoum prison, just southeast of N’Djamena, where the suspects will also face terrorism and undermining state security charges.
Chief prosecutor Mahamat El-Hadj Abba Nana said about 400 people were on trial, while lawyers said 454, with 386 of them present for the hearings.
The Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT), the most powerful of numerous rebel organisations opposing Deby’s leadership, launched an offensive from its bases in southern Libya in early 2021.
On April 20, the army said that Chad’s president, who had reigned since 1990, had been assassinated while leading troops against the rebels. His death was announced just one day after he was declared the winner of a presidential election that gave him a sixth term. Despite criticism of his autocratic rule, Deby was an important partner in the West’s anti-jihadist effort in the volatile Sahel, owing to Chad’s military’s relative strength.
General Mahamat Idriss Deby, his son, instantly assumed command of a “transitional military council,” pledging free elections within 18 months. Despite international objections, authorities extended the election date to 24 months last October, with delegates to a “national reconciliation meeting”—boycotted by most opposition organisations – stating Deby would be entitled to run for president.
Chad, one of the poorest countries in the world, has experienced many upheavals and instability since obtaining independence from France in 1960. Security forces have jailed hundreds of people, particularly youngsters, in recent months as part of a crackdown on opposition rallies criticising the military junta’s continuing hold on power.
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