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Chad: Déby promises national unity government in coming days

Mahamat Idriss Deby raises his hand as he is sworn in as Chad's transitional president...   -  
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A new government has been set up in Chad, where General Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno was sworn in on Monday as president of a two-year transitional period ahead of "democratic" elections and has promised to quickly appoint a "national unity government", 18 months after taking power at the head of a military junta.

A laborious National Sovereign and Inclusive Dialogue (DNIS) had endorsed Saturday the possibility for the head of state to run for president at the end of the transition but in the absence of a large part of the political opposition and the main armed rebel groups, who denounce the perpetuation of the "Déby dynasty" in power. 

The 38-year-old general had already been proclaimed by the army as President of the Republic on 20 April 2021, at the head of a Transitional Military Council (TMC) of 15 generals, the day of the announcement of the death of his father Idriss Déby Itno, killed at the front against rebels after having ruled this vast Sahelian country with an iron fist for 30 years.

During the inauguration ceremony on Monday at the Palais du 15-Janvier in N'Djamena, the president had swapped his usual general's uniform for a traditional white Chadian boubou.

This "second phase of the transition" must lead "to the strengthening of our democracy" and the future government "will work body and soul to ensure that the will of the Chadian people does not suffer any deviation", said Mr Déby, adding that "elections [would be] organized in transparency and serenity to [...] ensure the return to constitutional order.

The inauguration took place in the presence of Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, several ministers from West and Central Africa (Niger, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo), the ambassadors of France and the European Union, but in the absence of the African Union (AU) representatives.

International community - Referring to two commitments made by Mr Déby when he came to power, the AU had demanded on 19 September that the junta not extend the 18 months of transition, "and recalled unequivocally that no member of the Transitional Military Council can be a candidate in the elections at the end of the transition.

Since then, AFP has not reacted to the measures endorsed by the DNIS.

During his inauguration speech, Mr Déby asked the international community "to accompany Chad in its permanent quest for security and stability both inside the country and outside its borders, particularly in the theatres of peacekeeping operations and the fight against terrorism.

Chad has been regularly beset for decades by offensives from a multitude of rebel groups and remains a strategic ally of the West in the fight against jihadism.

The European Union (EU) had expressed its "concern" about the decisions to extend the transition and allow General Déby to run for the presidency, reflecting an embarrassment of the international community, according to Roland Marchal, a researcher at Sciences Po Paris.

The military council having been dissolved at the end of the DNIS, Mr Déby "becomes president of the transition [...] with the possibility of deciding directly who is the prime minister, of forming a government. His powers will be broadened and extended," said Enrica Picco, Central Africa director for the International Crisis Group (ICG) think tank.

"Mahamat Idriss Déby must improve his way of presiding. We see that it is the same system as the former president (Idriss Déby Itno, his father, editor's note) that is in place," reacted Hissein Adam, a shopkeeper in N'Djamena, interviewed by AFP.

"We want him to build roads, invest in agriculture and livestock and give a special place to schools because there is no development without promoting education," said Halime Ibrahim, in his sixties.

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