Chad junta lifts curfew imposed after President Deby death

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Chad’s new ruling junta announced Sunday that it has lifted a curfew introduced after the shock death of longtime leader Idriss Deby Itno and the installation of a military council led by his son.

An overnight curfew, barring people from leaving their homes between 6:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m., was introduced on April 20, hours after the military announced that Deby had died from wounds sustained in fighting with rebel forces. The start of the curfew was later pushed back to 8:00 pm.

A decree signed by the military council’s spokesman Azem Bermandoa Agouna said the curfew had been lifted “after evaluating the steps initially taken by the transitional military council (CMT) across the country and the security situation.”

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Chad has remained tense since Deby’s death, with the military saying that six people were killed last week during demonstrations in N’Djamena and the south against what the opposition have branded an “institutional coup d’etat.”

A local non-governmental organization has put the death toll at nine. More than 650 people were arrested during the protests, which had been banned by the authorities.

The military has said that Deby died during fighting with rebels from the Libya-based Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT), who had launched an election day offensive on April 11.

The announcement of Deby’s death came only a day after he was proclaimed winner of the presidential election, handing him a sixth term in office after three decades of iron-fisted rule.

Deby’s allies moved quickly to consolidate power after his death, ignoring the constitution and creating a military council led by his son, 37-year-old army general Mahamat Idriss Deby.

The transitional council is meant to be in place for 18 months and lead to democratic elections -- a claim opposition parties have dismissed, calling the arrangement a coup.

On Friday Chad’s army said it had wiped out “several hundred” rebels over two days of fighting in the Nokou region, around 200 kilometers (125 miles) north of the capital N’Djamena.

The military earlier said it had lost a helicopter during the fighting due to a “technical fault” but the rebels say they shot it down.

The rebels have threatened to march on N’Djamena, where a team from the African Union arrived Thursday to assess the situation and examine ways of a speedy return to democratic rule.

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