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Chad deploys combat-ready troops as post-election violence spikes


YAOUNDE, CAMEROON   — Chad says it has deployed combat-ready troops to stop armed attacks and maintain peace as the death toll increased to 12 people in post-election violence on Saturday. At least 90 people have sustained severe injuries in the capital, N’djamena. 

Chad state TV reports that keeping and using war weapons and firearms is prohibited until further notice by the central African state’s military. It noted the prohibition of weapons was imposed after 9 people were killed and upwards of 60 were injured in shootings in N’djamena on Thursday night, after provisional results of the May 6 presidential elections were announced.  

Chad’s police say three other injured victims died in two hospitals in N’djamena on Friday night. About 30 other civilians were injured in confrontations and shootings, and they were rushed to hospitals, where the government has ordered they be treated at no charge. 

Opposition and civil society say several hundred civilians who protested the May 6 presidential election results have been arrested and detained, especially in the capital city and in Moundou, Chad’s second-largest city. 

Chad’s elections management body, known as ANGE, has proclaimed transitional ruler General Mahamat Idriss Deby the winner, with more than 61% of the vote. His main challenger, Succes Masra, is second, scoring 18.53% of the vote. Masra claimed he won, but Deby stole his victory. 

Chad’s military said among the shooters were armed supporters celebrating Deby’s victory. They may have run into a confrontation with armed opposition supporters, Chad’s military said Saturday, noting that illegal arms proliferation is rampant in the central African state. 

Mbairamadji Desire, president of the N’djamena headquarters of the Rainbow Youth Association for Social Stability in Africa, said he is pleading with armed civilians to drop their weapons and spare Chad from looming civil strife.  

Mbairamadji said all Chadians, especially youths, should put down their weapons they are keeping illegally because peace is priceless. He warned that Chad could descend into worsening chaos because it is very difficult for its military to be effective on multiple fronts, including seizing weapons hidden in homes, fighting Boko Haram terrorists who are infiltrating the Lake Chad basin, and stopping violence between farmers and nomadic herders that has worsened all over Chad in recent years.

In a message after ANGE proclaimed the results, Deby said he is the democratically elected president of all Chadians, including opposition party leaders who are contesting his victory. Deby said he will do everything possible to strengthen Chad’s internal security to guarantee threatened peace and stability.  

Hussein Abdoulaye, a political analyst and lecturer at the University of Ndjamena, spoke with VOA via a messaging app from N’djamena.  

He said civilians are increasingly aware that Chad’s government has a tradition of rigging elections and using the military to crack down on the opposition, but that Chadians know their rights and may use violence if they think the opposition was deprived unfairly of victory. 

In several messages shared on social media, including WhatsApp and Facebook, Masra is calling on civilians to calmly mobilize and demonstrate peacefully for what he calls his stolen victory to be restored.  

Chad’s government and the elections body say candidates have five days from the date of publication of provisional results to file complaints at the constitutional council. 

 

The action could cancel the elections if it establishes that there was massive fraud, including stuffing of ballot boxes and intimidation of civilians at polling stations as the opposition claims. 

 

Definitive results are scheduled to be declared by Chad’s Constitutional Council on May 21.