“France, get out!”, “No to colonization”… Several hundred people demonstrated on Saturday May 14 in N’Djamena, capital of Chad, against the presence of France in the country. Demonstrators burned at least two flags of the former colonial power and vandalized several Total service stations, “symbol” according to them from France, tearing off pumps and carrying away certain products on display.
This demonstration, organized by the civil society opposition platform Wakit Tamma, had been authorized by the authorities. However, a police force surrounded the procession and was deployed in the city.
A little over a year ago, on April 20, 2021, the army announced that Chadian President Idriss Déby Itno had been killed at the front against yet another rebellion, after 30 years of authoritarian power. The same day, his son, Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno, was proclaimed by the army “interim president” at the head of a junta composed of 15 generals. He was promising “free and democratic elections” after an 18-month transition, following a dialogue with the political and armed opposition.
“France prevents us from being truly independent”
France, the European Union and the African Union had dubbed the new leader, in particular because the Chadian army is essential in the war against the jihadists in the Sahel. The same actors, however, sanction putschist soldiers in Africa.
During the march in N’Djamena, several students and college students on motorcycles joined the demonstrators singing in chorus “France outside”. “I’m demonstrating because France still wants to impose the Déby system on us”launched a young high school student. “If we continue to suffer today since independence, it is the fault of France which prevents us from being truly independent”added Idriss Moussa, an Arabic-speaking teacher.
The extended “national dialogue” period
“We are delighted that Chadians are becoming more and more aware of our struggle and are joining us”said Max Loalngar, coordinator of Wakit Tamma. “France installs dictators on our head. We just ask that our people be respected”.
In June 2021, the Chadian head of state considered an extension of the transition and announced on May 1 the postponement of the national dialogue, at the request of Qatar, mediator of a “pre-dialogue” which has stalled for two months in Doha between the junta and countless rebel groups.
The French presidency reacted by saying to itself “attached” to a dialogue in the “as soon as possible”, then by offering the help of France a few days later. On April 6, Wakit Tamma announced the suspension of his talks with the junta, denouncing “an international community that persists in supporting an illegal and illegitimate regime for whatever it takes”.