Home / AFRICA / Tensions in Chad mark start of Deby’s fifth term

Tensions in Chad mark start of Deby’s fifth term

Idriss Deby/AFP Photo/Pius Utomi Ekpei

Idriss Deby/AFP Photo/Pius Utomi Ekpei

Chada��s President Idriss Deby takes the oath of office Monday for a fifth term in power, facing persistent resistance from an opposition that alleges his re-election was a a�?political hold-upa�?.

With the swearing-in ceremony set for 1000 GMT, local television was broadcasting the arrival at the airport of African heads of state. The guests include Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, Malia��s Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and Central Africaa��s Faustin-Archange Touadera along with French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian from the former colonial power.

But the Chadian opposition has vowed to maintain a general strike throughout the day following a government crackdown over the weekend.

Heavily-armed security forces used tear gas to disperse opposition activists who had rallied despite an official ban in the poor, landlocked nation.

One young protester was shot dead on Sunday, opposition and police sources said.

Opposition leader Saleh Kebzabo, who was Debya��s nearest rival in the April presidential vote, said that the young man had died of his wounds a�?from the shooting with real bullets by the security forcesa�? to disperse the protesters.

The opposition are to meet during Debya��s inauguration day and unlike the weekend rallies the government has not banned their plans for a general strike to create what they call a a�?dead citya�?.

a�� a�?Wea��re in the righta�� a��

On Saturday Kebzabo had declared: a�?We are in the right. Ita��s the government that is acting illegally by preventing political parties from expressing themselves.a�?

Opposition activists have also announced the filing of a complaint in court alleging a�?high treasona�? against Deby, claiming a�?illegal taking of power by violencea�? and a�?misuse of public moneya�?.

Deby came to power in 1990 and was re-elected in a first-round vote in April with 61.5 percent of ballots cast against 12.8 percent for Kebzabo, according to official results.

The opposition called Debya��s re-election a a�?political hold-upa�?, saying their own count showed no candidate won outright at the first stage.

The election campaign was marred by a clampdown on demonstrations by unions and rights groups demanding a change of leadership and democratic reforms. Arrests and disappearances of activists are common in the nation of 12 million.

The situation in the oil-producing semi-desert country, a key player in the fight against west African jihadist groups, has been tense in recent months.

The opposition has laid partial blame on France, Chada��s former colonial ruler, claiming it has turned a blind eye to alleged human rights violations.

Chad is an active ally of Western nations and its neighbours in the battle against the Nigeria-based Islamists of Boko Haram. Na��Djamena is also the headquarters for Francea��s Barkhane anti-jihadist force.

Despite the regimea��s strict security set-up, Chad has seen unusual social tension this year. The gang rape of a schoolgirl by the sons of senior officials triggered angry demonstrations around the country, which were severely dealt with by the authorities.

The government has also been weakened by a difficult economic situation linked to the collapse in the price of oil. Strikes by officials over late salary payments have been growing.

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