Chadian President Declares State of Emergency

Naomi Schwarz

Chad's President Idriss Deby has imposed a state of emergency in his country, following a failed rebel attack on the capital earlier this month. Activists say he is taking advantage of the situation to tighten his grip on power. Concerns also remain over opposition leaders who were detained during the unrest. Naomi Schwarz has more from VOA's regional bureau in Dakar.

In a speech on national television and radio, President Deby said the nationwide state of emergency would help restore security. The state of emergency began Friday, and is set to last 15 days.

In his broadcast speech, Mr. Deby said, what he called the "exceptional measures" were necessary to "assure the regular functioning of the state."

Under the constitution, the state of emergency allows the government to control movement of people and vehicles, ban meetings, and control what is published in the media. A midnight to dawn (6:00 a.m.) curfew has been imposed across the country.

Olivier Bercault, of the New York-based advocacy group Human Rights Watch, says the government must do all it can to ensure security, but that basic human rights should not be violated in the process. And he says in Chad, they have been.

"It is really amazing that we are going back to the time of Hissene Habre when the country was run by a dictator and I hope that the situation is going to improve very, very fast," he said. "Civilians [are] start[ing] to get their old reflexes, and [are] afraid to talk publicly, and to be seen with more than three or four people in the streets."

Human rights activists accuse Habre, Chad's former leader, of ethnic massacres, political killings, and torture. He denies the accusations.

Since the rebel attacks early this month, the army and police have been conducting house-to-house searches for rebels and looted goods. But civilians report some soldiers are stealing private property, including motorbikes, televisions and cash.

Some residents say arrests target not only suspected rebel collaborators, but those seen to have cheered the rebel arrival in the capital.

At least three Chadian opposition leaders disappeared during the rebel attacks, leading some activists to accuse Mr. Deby of profiting from the chaos to stifle all his opposition.

Paul Simon Hendy, an analyst for the South Africa-based Institute for Security Studies, says this would not be new behavior from Mr. Deby.

"What we are seeing is simply the continuation of what has been done in the last 17 years since Deby is in power," he said. "Deby has always been a warlord. He has never tolerated the opposition."

Hendy says the international community needs to pay more attention to the internal political situation in Chad, rather than assuming the problems all stem from spillover from the conflict in neighboring Darfur.

"A regional answer has to be found by taking into account the specificities of each country," he said. "For the moment I have the feeling that only Sudan and Darfur are a matter of concern and less the other countries."

The United Nations has said more than 15,000 civilians fled Chad after the fighting caused widespread destruction and civilian deaths.

A European Union peacekeeping force tasked with protecting humanitarian efforts was set to deploy in eastern Chad, near the border with Darfur, this month. The conflict in the capital has delayed their arrival.

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs