No fewer than two people were reportedly killed and 27 injured in Chad on Tuesday as demonstrators took to the streets demanding a return to civilian rule after the military took control following President Idriss Deby’s death last week.
According to reports by Reuters, tensions have risen in Chad following Deby’s death and the military transition is struggling to win over a population exhausted by 30 years of monolithic, autocratic rule.
A health official at a hospital in the capital N’Djamena, who requested anonymity, confirmed the death of a man in his 20s who was brought into the emergency ward along with 27 other people injured during Tuesday’s protests.
Witnesses also reported the death of another protester in Moundou, Chad’s second largest city.
A spokesman for the ruling military council said security forces were attempting to contain the protesters while limiting material damage.
Reports say that the military council seized power after Deby was killed as he visited troops fighting rebels on April 19.
Some opposition politicians have called the military takeover a coup and asked supporters to protest, even as the army appointed a civilian politician, Albert Pahimi Padacke, as prime minister of a transitional government on Monday.
The military council banned protests in a statement on Monday evening, saying no demonstrations that could lead to disorder were allowed while the country was still in mourning.
Headed by Deby’s son Mahamat Idriss Deby, who was declared president, the military council has said it will oversee an 18-month transition to elections.
“We do not want our country to become a monarchy,” said 34-year-old protester Mbaidiguim Marabel. “The military must return to the barracks to make way for a civilian transition.”
Trucks loaded with soldiers were seen patrolling the streets around central N’Djamena.
“The police came, they fired tear gas. But we are not scared,” said Timothy Betouge, age 70.
Police responded with tear gas as protesters burned tyres in several neighborhoods of N’Djamena early on Tuesday. A Reuters witness said firefighters struggled to contain a blaze which was large enough to be seen from far away.
The council is coming under international pressure to hand over power to civilians as soon as possible. The African Union has expressed “grave concern” about the military takeover, while France, the former colonial ruler, and some of Chad’s neighbours are pushing for a civilian-military solution.
Anti-French sentiment was running high among the protesters, who blamed France for having backed the Deby regime against the will of the people. Posts on social media showed protesters burning a French flag.
Reuters reporters in N’Djamena were repeatedly berated by protesters who assumed they were French and told them to “go back to France”. The reporters saw businesses with French connections, such as a Total fuel station, being targeted by protesters.
Deby’s death came as Chad’s military battles an insurrection by Libya-based rebels known as the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT). The rebels came as close as 200-300 km (125-185 miles) from N’Djamena before being pushed back by the army.
Chad’s military council rejected an offer from the rebels for peace talks on Sunday, calling them “outlaws” who needed to be tracked down and arrested for their role in Deby’s death.