Chad rebels call for opposition activists' release

Chad's main rebel groups on Saturday called for the release of a group of opposition activists arrested earlier this month following violent anti-France protests.

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N'DJAMENA - Chad's main rebel groups on Saturday called for the release of a group of opposition activists arrested earlier this month following violent anti-France protests.

The rebel groups called for their "immediate and unconditional" release in a joint statement.

On Monday, five leading members of the main opposition coalition Wakit Tamma were charged with public order offences arising from the May 14 demonstration and detained.

Wakit Tamma's coordinator, Max Loalngar, was detained and charged on the same charge on Thursday, and their trial has been set for June 6.

The protest targeted France, which the activists accuse of supporting the military junta in Chad.

While the authorities had cleared it to go ahead, it degenerated into violence.

Police said 12 of their officers were injured during the unrest and protesters vandalised seven petrol stations belonging to the French group Total.

The impoverished Sahel state last year lost its 30-year ruler, Idriss Deby Itno, who was killed during an operation against rebels in the north of the country.

His place was taken by his son, General Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, at the head of a 15-member military junta.

The junta suspended the constitution and the younger Deby was proclaimed interim president pending the return to civilian rule.

It has promised to hold "free and democratic elections" within 18 months after staging a nationwide forum on the country's problems.

However, the "national reconciliation dialogue", due to have started on May 10, has been postponed.

Armed groups failed to agree on a joint stance over whether to join the forum, and opposition political parties have already said they will boycott the process.

The April 2021 military takeover was widely accepted by Western countries, led by the former colonial power France, which sees Chad as a close ally in its fight against jihadists in the Sahel.