Chad Pro-democracy protesters loot and burn Prime Minister’s office

N’DJAMENA (Reuters) – Anti-government protesters ransacked and set fire to the party headquarters of Chad’s new Prime Minister Saleh Kebzabo on Thursday as security forces dispersed demonstrations calling for a faster transition to democratic rule.

The vast military-ruled Central African nation has been on edge since the sudden death in April 2021 of President Idriss Deby, who ruled with an iron fist for three decades. Deby was killed while visiting troops fighting the rebels.

There has been resistance to a transitional military council led by Deby’s son, which took power after the president’s death and pushed back elections to October 2024.

Kebzabo, president of the National Union for Democracy and Renewal (UNDR) party, was appointed prime minister last week after the resignation of his predecessor, Albert Pahimi Padacke.

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A new government of national unity was formed on Friday to rule Chad for the next two years until elections. But critics are demanding a quicker return to democracy and a change of government after Deby’s long rule.

Protesters used burning tires to block roads in the capital N’Djamena early Thursday, defying a government ban on protests.

“Our headquarters was ransacked and then set on fire this morning,” UNDR vice-president Celestin Topona told Reuters by telephone.

Padacke’s party headquarters was also attacked and set on fire, spokesman Abbakar Sidick said.

Several protesters were injured as police used force and tear gas to break up citywide gatherings of around 100 people each.

Some protesters and social media posts said live ammunition was fired, but Reuters could not independently verify that claim.

A local journalist was shot and died of his injuries hours later, his brother said.

The government did not respond to a request for comment.

Security forces suppressed several demonstrations by civil society and the opposition denouncing the military coup and France’s support for the transitional government, sometimes resulting in deaths.

In May, police fired tear gas and used water cannons to disperse anti-French protests that led to the destruction of businesses linked to France.

(Reporting by Mahamat RamadaneWriting by Sofia ChristensenEditing by Nick Macfie)

Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.

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