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Chad's new presidential pardon for protesters and failed coup

Chad's new presidential pardon for protesters and failed coup
Anti-government protesters set fire to a barricade during clashes in...   -  
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Chad's president on Wednesday pardoned a new wave of 67 people convicted of taking part in a bloody protest on October 20, 2022, and 11 others for a foiled "coup" in December, according to N'Djamena.

General Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno had already pardoned and released 380 rebels at the beginning of April, then, in mid-May, 259 young people convicted in connection with the October 2022 demonstration, saying he wanted to focus on appeasement and national reconciliation.

Sixty-seven young men out of 77 sentenced in mid-May to 18 months to 5 years in prison, notably for "participation in an insurrectional movement" or "unauthorised assembly", were pardoned in a decree from the head of state dated Wednesday, a copy of which AFP obtained.

Nothing has filtered out about the fate of the other 10 convicts.

In a second decree on the same day, President Déby pardoned Baradine Berdei Targuio, president of the Chadian Organisation for Human Rights (OTDH), and 10 army officers.

They had been arrested in December 2022 and accused of plotting a "coup d'état", then sentenced in mid-May to 20 years in prison for "undermining the constitutional order".

On 20 October 2022, at the call of an already severely repressed opposition, demonstrators had marched in N'Djamena and some other cities to protest against the continuation in power for two more years of the transitional president Mahamat Déby.

This young general had been proclaimed by the army as head of state on 21 April 2021 at the head of a military junta of 15 generals, following the announcement of the death of his father Idriss Déby Itno, who was killed at the front by rebel fire after 30 years of ruling Chad with an iron fist.

- 600 young men -

Mahamat Déby immediately promised to return power to civilians through elections after a transition period of 18 months. But at the end of this period, he extended his mandate by two years on the recommendation of a national reconciliation dialogue boycotted by almost the majority of the civilian opposition and the most powerful armed rebel movements.

The forces of order violently repressed the October 20 demonstration in N'Djamena: the government acknowledged the death of 73 people, mainly young men shot by the military and police, but the opposition and NGOs claimed that hundreds had died that day or in the following days in huge raids.

More than 600 young men, including at least 80 minors, were arrested on 20 October and the following days and sent to a prison in the middle of the desert, in Koro Toro, more than 600 km from N'Djamena. There they were tried, after months of detention, without lawyers and without journalists from the non-governmental press.

More than half of them were sentenced to prison, the others were given suspended sentences or released. During the transport of prisoners to Koro Toro, but also during the raids, local and international NGOs claimed that dozens or even hundreds of people were tortured or executed, which the authorities denied.

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