Chad Declares Emergency After Dozens Die In Ethnic Violence

Idriss Deby,
Chad-President-Idriss-Deby

 

Chad President Idriss Deby declared a state of emergency in two eastern provinces on Sunday after violent intercommunal clashes left dozens dead earlier this month.

The state of emergency will run for three months in Sila and Ouaddai regions where 50 people have died since August 9 in fighting between cattle herders and settled farmers, the president’s office said.

“From now, we will deploy military forces who are going to ensure the security of the population in the region,” Deby said while on a trip to Sila.

“We must disarm all the civilians who have weapons in their hands,” he said.

Eastern Chad is in the grip of a cycle of violence between nomadic camel herders — many from the Zaghawa ethnic group from which Deby hails — and sedentary farmers from the Ouaddian community.

Drought and population growth have aggravated the conflict.

AFP

Idriss Deby Lifts Chad’s Social Media Restrictions

Chad’s President Idriss Deby said social media restrictions were imposed “in the context of terrorist threats”.

 

Chad President Idriss Deby said on Saturday he was lifting social media restrictions which were imposed more than a year ago for “security reasons.”

“For some months, security requirements led the government to toughen access conditions and control measures for electronic communications,” Deby said in a closing address to a digital forum in the capital N’Djamena.

“These measures were imposed in a context of terrorist threats (but)” the current situation ” leads me … to instruct the firms concerned to lift immediately the restriction on electronic communications,” said Deby.

On Saturday afternoon, it was possible to access social media applications including Whatsapp and Twitter, an AFP journalist reported.

Access was cut to social media in March last year as public opposition mounted over Deby’s plans to push through changes to the constitution shoring up his power after almost three decades in office.

Access remained possible using VPN networks but the use of those is costly in one of the world’s poorest nations.

Barely five percent of the population enjoy internet access.

Chad is a Western ally in the fight against jihadist groups in Africa and notably faces threats from Boko Haram, which has made several deadly incursions into its territory in recent months.

The largely desert north, bordering Sudan, Libya and Niger, is highly volatile while several rebel groups have set up base just over the border with Libya.

In late January, Chad rebels seeking to destabilise Deby entered the northeast of the country from Libya but were pushed back after French air strikes.

In the east, farmers and nomadic groups have also clashed while the south on the border with the Central African Republic is still tense after the 2013 overthrow of former CAR president sparked unrest which spilled over the border.

Legislative elections in Chad are scheduled to take place by the end of the year having been postponed several times since 2015 as Deby, who grabbed power in 1990, looks to maintain his grip on the country.

AFP

Boko Haram: Chad Fires Military Chief Over Death Of 23 Soldiers

Idriss Deby,
Chad-President-Idriss-Deby

 

Chad President Idriss Deby has fired his armed forces chief of staff following the latest bout of unrest which culminated in a Boko Haram attack that left 23 dead.

Deby fired Brahim Seid Mahamat and his two deputies by presidential decree after six years in the post-Friday night just hours after the attack in the southwest of the country.

The soldiers were killed after coming under attack from jihadists in the early hours of Friday morning in the deadliest attack on the Chadian military by Boko Haram, which launched an insurgency in Nigeria a decade ago.

READ ALSO: 23 Chadian Soldiers Killed In Boko Haram Attack

The unrest has spread to neighbouring Niger and Chad with the Boko Haram revolt to date claiming more than 27,000 lives and uprooting more than 1.7 million people.

Friday’s attack took place at Dangdala, on the northeastern bank of Lake Chad.

Thursday had seen another attack by the group kill eight civilians at Karidi in southeastern Niger in the Diffa region bordering Lake Chad, The area is one of the worst-hit areas for jihadist attacks in Niger.

Troops from Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria have been grouped into a multi-national force to fight Boko Haram.

Deby’s reorganisation of security — which included the suspension of the air force chief and his deputy — saw army chief of staff Taher Erda take the top job with a general from the northeastern region of Tibesti made chief advisor on national defence issues.

Erda is a Deby loyalist and former police chief who fought alongside the president before he took power in 1990.

The air force suspensions followed the discovery of debris from an helicopter which went missing more than a week ago in the north.

The sparsely populated, mainly desert region near the border with Sudan, Libya and Niger is volatile prone to attack from Chadian rebel groups based across the Libyan border.

In late January, France pounded Chadian rebels who had crossed back into their country from Libya to halt their incursion.

AFP

Chadian President, Idriss Deby Wins 5th Term

Idriss DebyThe Chadian President, Idriss Deby, is in very high spirits as he has secured a fifth term in office after winning more than 60% of the votes in the first round of presidential polls.

President Deby has been in power since 1990, when he orchestrated a military coup.

Based on the outcome of the vote, the opposition has expressed huge doubts over the credibility of the polls, especially after the opposition leader, Saleh Kebzabo finished a distant second with just under 13%.

Chad has one of the most capable armies in the region and President Deby has played a key role in efforts backed by the west to combat neighbouring Nigeria’s Islamic State-affiliated Boko Haram fighters as well as Al Qaeda militants.

Central, West African Leaders To Meet Over Boko Haram In April

Boko Haram terrorists fighting vehicles destroyed by troopsCentral and West African states will hold a summit next month to agree a common strategy to combat the Boko Haram insurgency, their leaders said on Wednesday.

Armies from Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger have launched an offensive to end the Islamic militant group’s six-year campaign, which has killed thousands in northern Nigeria and spilled over into Cameroon and Niger.

Ghana’s President John Dramani Mahama and his Chadian counterpart Idriss Deby told reporters in Accra that the April 7-8 summit, for which the host country has yet to be chosen, was needed to sustain the regional offensive.

Mahama chairs the West African regional bloc ECOWAS, while Deby heads the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).

“Single-handedly, no country can overcome this threat and therefore through pooling our resources together …we are going to overcome this challenge,” Deby told reporters.

Chadian President Says Shekau’s Whereabouts Known

Chadian President Chadian President, Idriss Deby on Wednesday said that he knew the whereabouts of Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the militant group Boko Haram, and further called on him to surrender or risk being killed.

Chad’s army, as part of a cross-border military campaign, has waged a series of battles against Boko Haram, that helped recover territories the militant group held captive in north-east Nigeria.

Speaking to journalists after a regional meeting, Deby said “‎Abubakar Shekau must surrender. We know where he is. If he doesn’t give himself up, he will suffer the same fate as his compatriots.” he told a news conference after a regional meeting.

The Chadian President also said Shekau was in Dikwa (a town in north-eastern Nigeria held by Boko Haram) two days earlier before the regional meeting, stating that he managed to get away but he (Deby) knew his whereabouts, and later stressed that “it is in his interests to surrender”.

Ex-Chad President Hissene Habre To Face Trial In Senegal

habreFormer Chadian President, Hissene Habre, will face trial in Senegal for alleged war crimes, torture and crimes against humanity.

Judges at the Extraordinary African Chamber said that there is sufficient evidence against Mr Habre, who is in custody in Senegal.

The court was set up by Senegal and the African Union to try Mr Habre after his arrest in 2013. His trial will mean the first use of universal jurisdiction in Africa.

72-year-old Habre is accused of thousands of political killings during his 1982-1990 presidency, which ended when he was deposed by the current Chadian President, Idriss Deby.

He denies the charges and has refused to recognize the legitimacy of the court.

A political prisoner during Mr Habre’s rule, Clement Abaifouta, said, “We are finally going to be able to confront our main tormentor and regain our dignity as human beings.”

The decision to try Habre was made by a panel of four judges who carried out 19 months of investigation, including in Chad, interviewing about 2,500 witnesses and victims, according to Human Rights Watch.

Habre doesn’t recognize the legitimacy of the court and refused to participate in the proceedings, Human Rights Watch said.

HRW lawyer, Reed Brody, said, “A fair and transparent trial for Hissene Habre would now demonstrate that courts in Africa can be empowered to provide justice for African victims of crimes committed in Africa.”

Boko Haram Attacks Village In Chad

Boko HaramBoko Haram fighters attacked a village in Chad on Friday, the first known lethal attack in that country by the militant group, which killed several people including a local chief according to residents and security forces.

Dozens of militants arrived by motorised canoe at the fishing village on the shores of Lake Chad early in the morning, setting houses ablaze and attacking a police station.

“They came on board three pirogues and succeeded in killing about ten people before being pushed back by the army,” said a resident of the village of Ngouboua, about 20 km (12 miles) east of the Nigerian border.

A spokesman for the armed forces said that five Chadians were killed on Friday, including local chief Mai Kolle, a police officer and three civilians.

“We sent in our air force and they neutralised the three pirogues. We are still combing the area,” he said.

United Nations refugee agency spokesman, Adrian Edwards, told reporters in Geneva that residents have been fleeing the village and a Chadian humanitarian vehicle was attacked as it tried to escape.

In Niger, thousands fled the border town of Diffa this week after a wave of raids and suicide attacks.

Boko Haram insurgents, including a suspected female suicide bomber, also attacked one town and two villages in Nigeria’s Borno State on Thursday, killing several people according to security, hospital sources and witnesses.

Nigeria has postponed its presidential election, that had been due on Saturday February 14, for six weeks, citing the security threat from Boko Haram.

Chad’s army has joined a regional offensive against Boko Haram and says it has killed hundreds of fighters in the past fortnight.

In a bid to contain Boko Haram, which has killed thousands and kidnapped hundreds in its five-year revolt, President Idriss Deby’s government mediated peace talks between the Nigerian government and the group last October.

The negotiations sought to secure the release of 200 schoolgirls from Nigeria’s Chibok but Boko Haram later said it had married off the schoolgirls to its fighters.

Chad is also the base for a French regional counter-insurgency operation “Barkhane” which provides intelligence and logistical support to the Chadian army.

FG Calls Off Deal To Swap Abducted Girls With Boko Haram Detained Suspects

Women-protest-Chibok-girls-abductionThe Federal government has called off a deal with Boko Haram to return some of the kidnapped schoolgirls in exchange for the release of group members in custody, the BBC reports

The BBC also reports that an intermediary met Boko Haram leaders earlier this month and visited the location in north-east Nigeria where the girls were being held.

A deal was almost reached to set some of the girls free in exchange for the release of 100 Boko Haram members being held in detention.

But the government cancelled the planned agreement shortly before the swap was due to take place.

The reasons for the withdrawal are unclear.

It came just after Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan attended a meeting in Paris hosted by President Francois Hollande of France where leaders said they had agreed a “global and regional action plan” against Boko Haram.

President Hollande of France, who hosted the summit, said regional powers had pledged to share intelligence and co-ordinate action against the group.

The Paris summit brought together Presidents Francois Hollande, Goodluck Jonathan, and their counterparts from Benin, Cameroon, Niger and Chad.

Afterwards, Mr Hollande said participants had agreed on a “global and regional action plan”.

He said this involved “co-ordinating intelligence, sharing information… border surveillance, a military presence notably around Lake Chad and the capacity to intervene in case of danger”.

Cameroon’s President Paul Biya said: “We are here to declare war on Boko Haram”. Idriss Deby of Chad said it would be “total war”.

Centenary Celebration: Jonathan Advises African Leaders On Conflict Management

Over 20 Heads of State have converged on the International Conference Center Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory, to commemorate Nigeria’s 100 years of existence, beginning with an international conference on human security, peace and development.

President Goodluck Jonathan presented the lead paper at the security conference which focuses on how to secure the continent against terrorists.

Some of the leaders present were President Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Yahya Jammeh of the Gambia and Prosper Bazombaza of Burundi.

Liberian President, Helen Sirleaf and the former Secretary-General of OAU, Dr Salim Ahmed Salim who led the Tanzanian delegation were also in for the celebration.

Also in Abuja was the President of Mauritania, Mohammed Ould Abdel Aziz, Ethiopian President, Mr Hailemarian Desalegh, and the European Union President, Mr Jose Manuel Barroso.

Presenting the lead paper, President Goodluck Jonathan, while highlighting the economic growth in the continent, told the world leaders present, that there was a need for collaboration in the fight against terrorism which is a global threat to development.

The President told his guests that world leaders must strengthen existing mechanism for national and international conflict management.

Citing the recent attack on students in Yobe State, President Jonathan said that the Federal Government would spare no funds in its resolve to bring the perpetuators to justice.

The theme of Nigeria’s centenary celebrations is designed around the key concepts of unity, indivisibility, virility, progress, and promise of the Nigerian Federation.

2015: Nigerians Will Accept Nothing Less Than Free, Fair Elections – UK Government

The Representative of the UK Prime Minister, Mark Simmons on Thursday called on the Nigerian government to deliver on its promise of a free and fair election in 2015, as Nigerians will accept nothing less.

“Next February’s election will be a vital milestone” as “Nigeria’s fifth consecutive election under civilian rule,” he said as he addressed President Goodluck Jonathan, saying he (Jonathan) had “committed himself to assuring that the elections will be free and fair and I am confident that Nigerians will accept nothing less.”

Simmons made this known at a world leaders’ conference hosted by President Jonathan as part of the nation’s Centenary Celebration, in Abuja. Mr Simmons delivered a speech entitled ‘United Kingdom Support for Peace and Security In Africa in the Face of Emerging Threats.’

“I am always struck by Nigeria’s youth, energy and vitality” he said and assured that there is a “great future ahead for both Nigeria and its African counterparts.”

He, however warned that choices made by African leaders will determine Africa’s future as “it is a future that is closely linked to the achievement of prosperity, stability and democracy.”

Relationship With Nigeria

Simmons, who delivered congratulatory message on behalf of the Queen of England, spoke on the history of both nations. “Our relationship is rooted in our joint history” characterised by the “large and important and energetic Nigerian community in the United Kingdom, the deep and expanding trade relationship and countless educational and sporting cultural connections.”

Speaking on Nigeria’s 100th year of existence, Simmons said “in 1940, the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates and Lagos brought together peoples, territory and resources that had never before considered themselves as having mutual interests.

“That brought challenges,” he said adding that the country’s diversity brought “strength, resilience and a multitude of talent.”

He further described Nigeria as a country “of international influence, peace-keeper, leader in the African Union and in the United Nations Security Council” which had become a driving economic and political force in the region.

Message To African Leaders

While addressing African leaders gathered at the Conference, Simmons stressed the need for a continent where fundamentals rights are protected, good governance, job creation, zero poverty.

He also lauded the achievements of African leaders in the last decade whose efforts lifted millions out of poverty and conflict but pointed out that there are some governments who are yet to decide “between building open governments, institutions and economies or putting up barriers, oppressing minorities and ruling through fear and violence.”

“In 1914, 100 years ago, as Nigeria was being born, Europe stood on the verge of tearing itself apart. Europe’s future was uncertain. Its part towards democracy, prosperity and stability was unclear. It was the choices European leaders made that have brought European countries to where they are today. Many of those choices brought success but as we sadly know, some of the choices brought terror and devastation in Europe, to millions.

“If African nations are to avoid the mistakes that European nations made over the last 100 years, then ultimately African leaders, in the next century, must make the right choices.”

He added that African leaders gathered at the event “hold in their hands, the fate of possibly one billion people and their prosperity.”

He averred that the success of African governments will be judged by democracy, prosperity, stability and not rhetorics.

 

The International Conference on Human Security, Peace and Development is on-going in Abuja where several world leaders including President Francios Hollande of France, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, President of Chad, Idriss Déby, President José Manuel Barroso of the European Commission, are in attendance.

Chad Says Al Qaeda Commander Killed In Mali, France Cautious

One of al Qaeda’s most feared commanders in Africa, Abdelhamid Abou Zeid, has been killed by Chadian forces in northern Mali, Chad’s President Idriss Deby said on Friday.

French officials said they could not confirm the report.

“It was Chadian forces who killed two jihadi leaders, including Abou Zeid,” Deby told opposition politicians in the presence of journalists after a funeral ceremony for Chadian soldiers killed in fighting at the weekend.

Chadian soldiers with support from French special forces and fighter jets are hunting down pockets of al Qaeda-linked insurgents in the border region with Algeria after a seven-week French-led campaign broke Islamist domination of northern Mali.

The death of Abou Zeid, who has earned AQIM tens of millions of dollars with a spate of kidnappings of Westerners in the Sahara over the last five years, would be a significant but far from fatal blow to the group.

Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the one-eyed mastermind of a mass hostage-taking at the In Amenas gas plant in Algeria last month, remains at large. So does Tuareg Islamist leader Iyad ag Ghali, who was this week placed on the U.S. global terrorist list.

Sources close to Islamist militants and tribal elders had earlier said Abou Zeid, blamed for kidnapping at least 20 Westerners in the Sahara, was among 40 militants killed within the past few days in the foothills of the Adrar des Ifoghas mountains.

Algeria’s Ennahar television, which is well connected with Algerian security services, had reported his death on Thursday but there was no official confirmation.

A former smuggler turned jihadi, Algerian-born Abou Zeid is regarded as one of the most ruthless operators of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). He is believed to have executed British hostage Edwin Dyer in 2009 and 78-year-old Frenchman Michel Germaneau in 2010.

A trusted lieutenant of AQIM’s leader Abdelmalek Droukdel, Abou Zeid imposed a violent form of sharia law during Islamist domination of the ancient desert town of Timbuktu, including amputations and the destruction of ancient Sufi shrines.

“The death of Abou Zeid has been confirmed by several of his supporters who have come back from the mountains,” said Ibrahim Oumar Toure, a mechanic in the northern Malian town of Kidal who worked with Islamist rebels and remains in contact with them.

Members of the MNLA Tuareg rebel group, who have been acting as scouts for French and Chadian forces, said Islamist prisoners seized during the fighting confirmed Abou Zeid and another militant leader had been killed.

However, French government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem said she could neither confirm nor deny the report, and French officials urged caution. An official MNLA spokesman said the group had no evidence to prove he was dead.

French radio RFI and Algerian daily El Khabar reported that DNA tests were being conducted on members of Abou Zeid’s family to confirm whether a body recovered by French troops after fighting in Adrar des Ifoghas was indeed the Islamist leader.

HOLLANDE SAYS OPERATION NEARS END

In a speech on Friday, French President Francois Hollande said the operation in Mali was in its final stage and he was not obliged to confirm Abou Zeid’s death.

“Terrorist groups have taken refuge and are hiding in an especially difficult zone,” he said. “Information is out there. I don’t have to confirm it because we must reach the end of the operation.”

A U.S. official and a Western diplomat, however, said the reports appeared to be credible.

According to local sources in Kidal, MNLA Tuareg rebels, who are working with French forces, had located Abou Zeid’s fighters and handed over the coordinates for French jets to strike.

“They were hidden in mountain caves and were building bombs for suicide attacks when they were killed,” Toure said.

Abou Zeid’s death will be of particular interest to the French government as he is believed to be holding at least four French citizens kidnapped from Niger in 2010.

After its success in dislodging al Qaeda fighters from northern Mali’s towns, France and its African allies have faced a mounting wave of suicide bombings and guerrilla-style raids by Islamists in northern Malian towns.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in Geneva on Friday that a U.N. peacekeeping force to replace French troops in Mali should be discussed as soon as possible.