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Chad junta grants general amnesty over deadly 'Black Thursday' anti-govt rally

By RFI
Chad  RFI  Carol Valade
NOV 24, 2023 LISTEN
© RFI / Carol Valade

Chad's military rulers have announced a general amnesty that effectoively ends prosecution and recinds guilty verdicts related to the deaths of hundreds of protesters in a 2022 anti-government rally.

Chad's government-appointed parliament, the National Transitional Council, adopted the law on Thursday with 92.4 percent of members voting in favour, National Reconciliation Minister Abderaman Koulamallah told the French news agency AFP.

The law is part of a commitment to national reconciliation and applies to all Chadians, civilians and soldiers, whether they were already under investigation or not.

The amnesty relates to 20 October 2022 – dubbed "Black Thursday" by the opposition – when hundreds of demonstrators, mainly youths, protested against a move by military president Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno to hang on to power for another two years.

Police and soldiers opened fire in the capital N'Djamena, killing 73 people, according to the government, or at least 218 (according to the opposition and Chadian rights groups) .   

'Unfair trials' 

Following the demonstrations, the regime said 621 youths, including 83 minors, were detained at an infamous desert jail at Koro Toro, 600 kilometres from the capital.

Most were convicted and sentenced to prison in a mass trial, before being pardoned by Deby.

Local and international NGOs as well as UN-mandated experts estimate that 1,000-2,000 were arrested. Dozens if not hundreds of them have since disappeared.

"Despite the authorities' immediate promise of an inquiry, all we have seen up to now is unfair trials behind closed doors of demonstrators and the absence of serious investigations into the alleged perpetrators of the killings," Amnesty International said in October 2023, one year after the protests.

Opposition

The opposition and NGOs have previously denounced the amnesty as a move by the government to shield the police and military officers responsible for the killings from justice.

Most of the leaders of the opposition remain in exile.

However, Succes Masra, president of The Transformers party, returned to Chad on 3 November as part of the general amnesty having reached an agreement with the government.

Last Sunday he called for calm among his supporters, saying "reconcilation is not surrender".

Other opposition leaders have accused Masra of cozying up to power in the run-up to elections promised for 2024 which the government says will mark a return to civilian rule.

Ahead of the elections, a referendum on a new constitution is scheduled for 17 December. 

The vast majority of opposition parties are calling for a boycott of the vote.

(with AFP)

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