News

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.
Comments
     
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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs