Chad’s army claims victory over the northern rebel group

Chad’s army on Sunday claimed victory in the weeks-long battle with northern rebels that led to the death of President Idriss Deby on the battlefield.

However, the rebel group Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT) said it was not aware of the end of the fighting. The group “will comment if it has reliable and credible information,” said FACT spokesman Kingabe Ogouzeimi de Tapol.

The transitional military authorities have previously said they defeated the rebels only to continue the clashes.

The conflict and wider political instability are closely monitored. Chad is a major power in Central Africa and a long-standing Western ally against Islamist militants in the Sahel region.

Crowds in the capital N’Djamena cheered on Sunday as soldiers returned from the front line in a column of tanks and armored vehicles.

“Today’s triumphal return of the army to barracks marks the end of operations and Chad’s victory,” Chief of General Staff Abakar Abdelkerim Daoud told reporters.

At an army base in N’Djamena, dozens of imprisoned rebels sat in the sand, seen by the assembled press.

FACT fighters crossed the border from Libya in April to take a stand against Deby, whose 30-year rule they opposed. His subsequent death during visiting troops put the country in crisis.

On Saturday, security forces fired tear gas to spread a protest against the ruling military council. The council, led by Deby’s son Mahamat Idriss Itno, seized power after Deby’s death and pledged to oversee an 18-month transition to elections.

Opposition and civil society politicians have denounced the takeover as a coup d’état and urged supporters to take to the streets. At least five people were killed during a protest on April 27.

Opponents had planned a new protest on Sunday, but postponed it for fear authorities wanted to suppress it by force, Mahamat Nour Ibedou, a prominent human rights activist, told Reuters.

The military council had authorized a protest on Sunday.

Former colonial ruler France, which has a military presence in Chad and has provided long-term support to Deby, initially showed strong support for the council, but has since called for a civilian government of national unity.


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