AFRICA/CHAD - Missionary: “The population wants democratic change”

Saturday, 29 May 2021 democracy   armed groups   violence  

N'Djamena (Agenzia Fides) - "In the center-north of Chad tension is decreasing and the situation is calmer. There is currently no fighting. The border crossings to Sudan are open", confirms Fr. Franco Martellozzo, an Italian Jesuit, a missionary in Africa for more than fifty years, who summarizes the situation in the great Sahelian country in an interview with Fides after the death of President Idris Deby Itno and the fomation of a government made up of military and civilians. "Our activities continue as always. We can go unmolested. The rebels have withdrawn and even the common bandits seem to be less active", notes the missionary.
Chad, a country closely linked to France, is the bastion of the fight against Islamic jihad in the Sahel region. The advance of the rebels of the so-called “Front for Change and Unity”, which started in April from Libya towards the Chadian capital N'Djamena, shook the country. "On the movement - continues the Jesuit - it is known that it is a political-military organization consisting mainly of fighters from the Dazaga or Gouran ethnic group and was founded in 2016 by Mahamat Mahdi Ali. There are rumors that they were funded by Russia, but this is unclear. We definitely know that they were well armed".
The advance, although denounced by many, has not been stopped. "The rebels could easily have been stopped by the air force while they were marching towards the capital - observes Father Franco -. There have been attempts by the Chadian aviation, but they have not led to much. Why? Who benefited from putting pressure on the government of Deby?".
There is also little clarity on Deby's death. Father Franco Martellozzo mentions some of the suspicions that are circulating in Chad: "Officially he was killed by the rebels during the fighting. Here, however, it is said that he died before that. Rumor has it that there was an argument with his generals that was allegedly resolved by gunfire. The president is said to have been fatally injured in this incident. These are rumors that are widespread in Chad".
"I live in Mongo on the road to Abeché", said the missionary about the situation on site. "Usually this is the most unstable area in the country, but today it's quiet. Tensions are said to have developed in the south, but these are demonstrations against the new government". "The country is currently ruled by a military and civil government led by Mahamat Déby Itno, the son of the late Idris". We are waiting to see what happens", the missionary concluded. "We will see whether there will actually be the democratic change that the population is waiting for". (EC) (Agenzia Fides, 29/5/2021)