Chad: Chaos, Renewed Fighting, Internal Conflict Feared as Military & International Community Divided over Deby’s Military Council

Cracks have started to emerge in the Chadian military following the setting up of a military council to manage the transition in the wake of President Deby’s death.

In essence, the killing of President Idris Deby Itno on the frontline on April 20, led to a military take-over, and the installation of the President’s son, General Mahamat Deby.

The new leader wasted no time in setting up a 15-member Military Council, all made up of generals, to manage the transition for 18 months, at the end of which time a “free and fair” election will be conducted to re-establish a government.

But the way Mahamat Deby was given power and how he went about constituting the military council has not gone down well with some top military personnel.

New humanitarian crisis emerging  as thousands flee armed conflict into the war-torn Central African Republic (C) Amnesty International

General Abdéramanne Dicko who was Director of President Deby’s military cabinet says he joins others to dispute the military take-over.

“We dispute the Military Council because the Chadian people have contested. We contest because the democratic opposition has contested,” he said.

He said in such circumstances, the entire top brass of the military should have been consulted, but that in this case, he like many other prelates were not consulted.

“The issue isn’t that all military officers weren’t consulted. The problem is that during the putting in place of a Military Transition Council, the Chadian people weren’t consulted. The civil society wasn’t consulted. The democratic opposition wasn’t consulted,” General Dicko said.

“In a democratic system, there is a constitution. The Constitution is the fundamental law which foresees everything. In case of a vacancy at the helm of the state, (unfortunately, we lost our head of state), after his death, the right thing to do should have been to defer to the Constitution in a consensual, comprehensive, and inclusive manner. This was not done,” he warned.

According to Chadian political scientist, Dr. Evariste Ngarlem Toldé, what is unfolding in Chad is a constitutional coup.

“The death of Deby means there is a vacancy at the helm, and the Constitution says that in case of a vacancy, the National Assembly Speaker takes over. So, the military takeover is unconstitutional, it is a violation of the fundamental law of the land,” Dr. Ngarlem told Timescape Magazine.

He said the military junta will continue to perpetuate the same policies that the Chadian people have been objecting to, and that the son’s rule will not be much different from that of the father.

“For the past five years, the Chadian people were out on the streets to say no to a 6th mandate for Deby, to say no to the current system.

“We are calling on our brothers to review their decision, to review the composition of the military council in view of including the Chadian civil society and to represent the multi-cultural diversity of Chad and to find credible solutions that could guarantee the stability of the country,” General Dicko urged.

Success Masra, the up-and-coming opposition leader that President Deby barred from contesting in the last Presidential Election also expressed displeasure at the military takeover.

“The people aren’t in agreement with that. The people want us to sit and discuss in order to put in place a transition government that is inclusive. Soldiers have so much to do to ensure the security of the country, to fight against terrorism. Do Chadians want a dynastic transition of power? No; Do they want a continuation of the Deby government that they have long vomited? No. Do the Chadians want chaos resulting from an armed struggle? No.”

Paul Biya, the absentee President of Cameroon has sided prematurely with the military junta (C) BBC

Meanwhile, reports say thousands of people are already fleeing Chad southwards into Kouseri in Cameroon’s Far North region. Cameroon has already reinforced security at the borders for fear terrorists could disguise as refugees and wreak havoc on Cameroon.

Already, there are concerns that instability in Chad could destabilize the entire sub-region. It will allow terrorists free reign in a region where Deby had been a major hindrance to their intent to expand.

 

Conflicting International Response

In a statement issued Wednesday in Washington, the United States government says it supports a peaceful transition based on the provisions of the Chadian Constitution.

US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken (C) New York Magazine

On behalf of the United States, we offer the people of Chad our sincere condolences as they mourn the passing of President Idriss Deby Itno. We condemn recent violence and loss of life in Chad. The United States stands with the people of Chad during this difficult time.  We support a peaceful transition of power in accordance with the Chadian constitution,” the statement reads.

In the meantime, France has tacitly thrown its weight behind the Military Transitional Council. A posture copied by neighboring Cameroon, a former French colony run by another life-President, Paul Biya.

French Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian in a statement issued April 20, says “A political transition is in place, manned by the Council of Military Transition. It is important that, after a limited timeframe, that it should result in the putting in place of an inclusive civilian government, in the interest of the country and the people of Chad”.

Jean-Yves Le Drian, French Foreign Minister (C) Wikipedia

These remarks by Mr. Le Drian have attracted mixed reactions from several quarters and raised questions about the role of the Chadian Constitution.

Dr. Christopher Fomunyoh, a Senior Official at the US-based National Democratic Institute wrote on Twitter that “If #France felt it had 2 bad choices, it seems to have chosen both: aligning with military junta & dumping the Chadian constitution, alienates millions of Chadians who want peace and stability, but also democracy, rights & freedoms. What a better way to stoke discontent & extremism”.

 

Post Scriptum: The chaos and confusion reigning in Ndjamena, Chad at the moment, marked by conflicting sources of information, continue to make it difficult to ascertain the fate of the Chairman of the Military Transitional Council, General Mahamat Idriss Deby Kaka. Timescape Magazine’s informants who hinted that he was killed have retracted the story, blaming the situation on the conflicting nature of sources in the Chadian capital.