Chad's interim leader Deby confirms plan to run for president


By Mahamat Ramadane

N'DJAMENA, March 2 (Reuters) - Chad's interim President Mahamat Idriss Deby said on Saturday he plans to run in this year's long-awaited presidential race.

Deby's confirmation came at the end of a chaotic week in which opposition politician Yaya Dillo was shot and killed in the capital N'Djamena, prompting the European Union to express its deep concern.

Dillo's death on Wednesday in disputed circumstances has further exposed divisions in the ruling elite at a politically sensitive time as the Central African country prepares for the promised return to democratic rule via the ballot box.

The Chadian government has said Dillo was killed in an exchange of gunfire with security forces and has accused members of his party of also attacking the internal security agency.

On Friday, the government confirmed that Deby's uncle, General Saleh Deby Itno, had been arrested in the wake of Wednesday's events.

Itno had recently defected to Dillo's opposition Socialist Party Without Borders (PSF).

"He has now been charged by the public prosecutor and his life is in no danger," government spokesperson Abderaman Koulamallah said, without specifying what charges Itno faces.

Chadian rebel group the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT) and the CNRD opposition party have described Dillo's death as an assassination.

The URT opposition party said Dillo "democratically opposed the dangerous trajectory of the military transition in Chad".

In a statement on Saturday, the URT said recent events were "a dangerous and deliberate move to muzzle the political opposition".

Addressing supporters and state officials, Deby announced his candidacy for the May-June election in a speech that made no reference to Dillo's killing or his uncle's arrest.

"It is ... with a mixture of honour, humility, responsibility and gratitude that I accept this nomination," he said.

Later on Saturday, the diplomatic service of the European Union said it was deeply concerned about the recent violence in N'Djamena and called for the facts and those responsible to be established in "a credible and independent way".

"These events undermine the efforts needed to ensure a transparent, pluralist, inclusive and peaceful transition," it said in a statement.

Deby initially promised an 18-month transition to elections after he seized power in 2021, when his long-ruling father was killed in clashes with rebels.

But his government later adopted resolutions that postponed elections until 2024 and allowed him to run for president.

The electoral delay triggered protests that were violently quelled by security forces with around 50 civilians killed.

(Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Mike Harrison and Mark Potter)


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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