N’DJAMENA, Chad (AP) — Chad’s government clamped down on the country’s opposition Friday, suspending seven political parties and searching party offices a day after unprecedented protests around the country left more than 60 people dead.
Prominent opposition leader Succes Masra tweeted that the national headquarters of his Les Transformateurs party was “being ransacked by security forces who forced their way in.”
“After having shot 70 people, arrested, wounded and tortured more than 1,000 others, they are now attacking buildings and documents,” he tweeted.
Masra’s party was listed first among the seven suspended by Chad’s government for a 3-month period. The decree covers all political activities nationwide.
Demonstrators in the capital, N’Djamena, and several other cities took to the streets Thursday to protest against interim leader Mahamat Idriss Deby extending his time in power by two more years.
Deby became head of a transitional government when his father, former President Idriss Deby Itno, died in April 2021 after more than 30 years in power. Mahamat Idriss Deby initially agreed to an 18-month transition, a term that would have ended Thursday.
However, the government recently announced he would stay in power another two years, prompting the protests. After using tear gas, security forces fired live ammunition at the demonstrators in N’Djamena, according to witnesses. A government spokesman confirmed 30 dead, though activists put the figure higher.
In the country’s second-largest city, Moundou, a morgue official said there were 32 deaths following a similar protest crackdown there. He spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.
Prime Minister Saleh Kebzabo later defended the government’s use of force, telling reporters the unrest was “an attempted coup.”
The deadly response drew swift rebukes from France, the United States and others. African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat said he strongly condemned “the repression of the demonstrations.”
“I call on the parties to respect human life and property and to favor peaceful means to overcome the crisis,” he tweeted.
Thursday’s unrest was unprecedented in Chad, which saw little public dissent during the previous regime of Deby’s father. Officials have said the late Deby was killed by rebels while visiting his troops on the battlefield.
Several demonstrations have taken place since his son became interim leader. Security forces fired on civilians in two other instances, according to Amnesty International.