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Protests in Chad over Deby’s threat to re-introduce military courts

Deby said Tuesday he was concerned about tit-for-tat violence in the escalating conflict between herders and farmers

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Protests in Chad over Deby's threat to re-introduce military courts

Opposition parties in Chad on Wednesday denounced President Idriss Deby’s suggestion that military courts may be re-introduced in a bid to curb ethnic violence.

Deby said Tuesday he was concerned about tit-for-tat violence in the escalating conflict between herders and farmers – tensions that are familiar in other parts of the Sahel, including Nigeria.

“We absolutely must end this inhuman cruelty,” he said in a speech in the capital Ndjamena.

“All options” are on the table, including “introducing military courts,” Deby said.

Saleh Kebzabo, head of the National Union for Development and Renewal (UNDR), said “intercommunity conflicts are growing more and more.”

Deby’s remarks are “proof that [he] is unable to run the country without turning to exceptional laws… it’s the proof that the current regime is at the end of the road.”

Mahamat Ahmat Alhabo of the Party for Freedoms and Development (PLD) said Deby, 66, had been in power for almost 29 years.

“(He) has been unable to bring peace and security to Chad,” he said. “Deby should blame himself — it’s the failure of his governance.”

Eastern Chad is in the grip of a cycle of violence between nomadic camel herders – many from the Zaghawa ethnic group from which Deby hails – and sedentary farmers from the Ouaddian community.

Rows over land swiftly escalate — last month more than 31 people were killed.

Military justice, applied to civilians as well as the armed forces, was abolished in Chad in 1993. In 2016, the country also scrapped the death penalty, except for terror offences.

Deby’s Patriotic Movement of Salvation (MPS) defended the president’s remarks, saying the judicial system had failed “to deter some of our fellow citizens from expressing their hatred through violence.”

“Restoring military courts” could dissuade them, MPS member Jean-Bernard Padare said

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Central Africa Politics

Ali Bongo joins independence celebration in Libreville

The public outings were the first time Gabonese have seen their leader beyond the presidential palace since he fell ill last October

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Ali Bongo joins independence celebration in Libreville
Gabon's President Ali Bongo (C-L) and his wife Sylvia Bongo (C-R) sit on the tribune as they attend a parade during the country's independence day celebration in Libreville, on August 17, 2019, marking its independence from France in 1960. - Ali Bongo on August 17, 2019 made a rare public appearance to attend the country's independence day celebrations, nearly ten months after suffering a stroke that fueled speculation about his ability to rule. (Photo by Steve JORDAN / AFP)

Gabon’s President Ali Bongo on Saturday made a rare public appearance to attend the country’s independence day celebrations, nearly ten months after suffering a stroke that fueled speculation about his ability to rule. 

Bongo, whose every move is scrutinised for signs of his state of health, on Friday made his first public appearance since his illness, taking part in events on the eve of celebrations to mark Gabon’s independence. 

The public outings were the first time Gabonese have seen their leader beyond the presidential palace since he fell ill last October, except for appearances filmed and edited by Gabonese government or state media.

Standing straight in an army vehicle, in a dark suit and dark glasses, Bongo on Saturday arrived at the military parade on Libreville’s main boulevard along the capital’s seafront. 

President Ali Bongo of Gabon on August 16, 2019 made his first live appearance in public nearly 10 months after suffering a stroke, attending ceremonies in the capital Libreville. (Photo by STEVE JORDAN / AFP)

Early on Saturday morning, many people had flocked to the seafront, trying to make their way through many security barriers to catch a glimpse of their leader.

“There are people who said he was sick, but he was able to greet us,” said Mama Youssouf, a young spectator in the crowd.

Speculation about 60-year-old Bongo’s capacity to rule the country surged after he suffered a stroke while in Saudi Arabia.

He was flown to Morocco for treatment, returning in January. During his extended absence, the army quashed a brief attempted coup.

Ten members of Gabon’s political opposition, civil society and trade union movement have filed a suit requesting Bongo be assessed to see whether he is medically fit to continue in office.

A lower court dismissed the case in May, saying only the two houses of parliament, or the Constitutional Court acting for the government, were empowered to determine whether the president was unfit.

But the Court of Appeal has said it would hear an appeal by the plaintiffs and set a date for it — August 26.

Bongo succeeded his father Omar Bongo, who became head of state in 1967 and died in June 2009, leaving a legacy of corruption allegations.

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DR Congo authorities ban rallies in Kinshasa as tensions rise

Tensions rose in the capital after youths announced they would hold a protest against the candidacy of a former justice minister

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UDPS opposition party leader Felix Tshisekedi gestures to supporters as Authorities bans rallies

DR Congo authorities have banned political rallies this week in the capital Kinshasa because of tensions between supporters of President Felix Tshisekedi and those of former leader Joseph Kabila, police said Sunday.

Tshisekedi was elected in December to replace Kabila who presided over sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest country for nearly two decades.

Tensions rose in the capital after the youth wing of Tshisekedi’s Democracy and Social Progress party (UDPS) announced it would hold a protest against the candidacy of a former justice minister for the senate presidency.

In response, the pro-Kabila Red Berets movement said it would hold a counter-march to support the candidacy of Alexis Thambwe, who is considered by many a hardliner from the Kabila regime.

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Kinshasa police chief General Sylvano Kasongo told state television that given the tensions in the capital, Kinshasa’s governor had banned all political rallies for this week. “He instructed the police to take all appropriate measures. Anyone who attempts to march or disturb the public order this week will find the police in their way,” he said.

UDPS youth wing spokesman Fils Mukoko told reporters they wanted to protest against seeing “the same faces in charge of the country’s institutions or in the government.”

Kabila’s Common Front for Congo (FCC) coalition won comfortable majorities in both houses of parliament as well as provincial assemblies, and his supporters also dominated elections for the governorships across the country.

Read also: GNA announces a new political plan, promises elections in Libya

None of the candidates the FCC presented for seven key Senate posts is from Tshisekedi’s CACH alliance in the legislature despite an agreement to work together between the two political blocs.

Six months after Tshisekedi’s inauguration and more than a month after the appointment of Prime Minister Ilunga Ilunkamba, who was proposed by Kabila, CACH and FCC negotiators are still struggling to agree on the composition of the government.

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Central Africa Politics

Cameroon’s government keeps postponing local elections for ‘no reason’

On July 11, 2018, the elections were postponed a first time using the same method.

Kathleen Ndongmo

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Anti-Paul Biya Protesters demonstrate in front of the Eiffel tower in Paris, France,

Cameroon President Paul Biya said Monday he was delaying local elections to 2020, a declaration read on the radio said Monday, the second time in two years that the poll has been postponed.

“The mandate of municipal councillors elected on September 30, 2013 has been extended until February 29, 2020,” Biya declared, which essentially sets the poll back until that date.

No reason was given for the extension.

On July 11, 2018, the elections were postponed a first time using the same method.

Biya, who is 86, has been in power for 36 years.

Legislative elections could now be delayed as well because the government wants to hold them at the same time to cut costs, according to deputies.

Cameroon is in the midst of a security crisis that has pitted separatist English-speaking regions in the west against the French-speaking population elsewhere.

In the north, the Nigerian jihadist group Boko Haram stages regular armed attacks as well.

The country is also facing political ructions, with the head of the opposition Movement for the Rebirth of Cameroon (MRC), Maurice Kamto, and about 100 of the party’s supporters still in jail after their arrest in January.

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