Chad's opposition and civil society groups are asking France to immediately withdraw troops who arrived in Chad after being ordered to depart neighboring Niger by that country’s military junta.
Ordjei Abderahim Chaha, president of the opposition party Rally for Justice and Equality, said this week that military ruler Mahamat Idriss Deby has failed to heed calls to ask French troops to leave.
Speaking at a news conference in the capital, N’Djamena, Thursday, Chaha said he believes Deby wants French troops to keep Chad's military junta in power by intimidating or cracking down on civilians who are ready to protest should Deby fail to hand power to civilian rule by November 2024 as agreed.
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Opposition and civil society groups have asked Deby to ensure some 1,000 French troops already stationed in Chad — plus those who have arrived from Niger — leave the central African state no later than December 28, Chaha said.
All colonial-era agreements and newly negotiated deals between France and Chad should be canceled, he said, adding that citizens are fed up with France's overbearing influence in many African nations.
Deby, a general in Chad's army, was proclaimed head of an 18-month transitional council on April 21 to replace his late father, Idriss Deby Itno, who had run Chad as a dictator for 30 years.
Opposition and civil society groups say Deby cannot be trusted because he failed to hand power to a civilian government in October 2022 as agreed and instead extended the transition period by two years.
Deby insists he will hand power to civilian rule.
The Chadian government says there have been at least six protests against French military presence in Chad this year. In February, there were widespread protests against French troops after civilians accused the foreign military of brutality against civilians.
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In early September, a French military medic opened fire and killed a Chadian soldier who reportedly attacked him with a scalpel as he received care in a military base. Anti-French protests then erupted in Faya-Largeau, a northern town, and Chad's military used live ammunition and injured several people as it struggled to disperse protesters, according to civil society groups.
Koursami Albert, an international affairs lecturer in Chad’s University of N'Djamena, told VOA via a messaging app that civilians are unhappy because French troops restrict or arrest people who come close to their bases — an indication, he said, that the French do not want anyone to know their activities.
He said even Chadian troops are restricted from going near French military bases.
France has always claimed that its troops are in Africa to ensure peace and stability in friendly countries, especially where it was the former colonial power, but people struggle to see what services their troops render, Koursami said.
French troops have not intervened in the communal violence and armed conflicts Chad faces, observers say.
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On October 19, Colonel Pierre Gaudillière, spokesperson for the French military, announced that the first convoy of French troops that left Niger by land had arrived in N'Djamena.
France did not disclose the final destination of their forces leaving Niger. Chad said the troops were to leave for Paris via N'Djamena International airport, while their equipment was to transit through the Douala Seaport in neighboring Cameroon.
French President Emmanuel Macron in September promised to pull all 1,500 French troops from Niger and end military cooperation with the landlocked western African country.
Nigerien military leader General Abdourahamane Omar Tchiani and junta supporters accused France of failing to resolve the security crisis that has killed thousands and displaced millions across Niger.