N’DJAMENA (Reuters) – Chadian police fired tear gas and used water canon to disperse hundreds of protesters who took to the streets of the capital and other towns in an anti-French protest that saw the destruction of some French-linked businesses.
The protest was called by Chadian civil society coalition Wakit Tamma to denounce France’s backing of the Transitional Military Council that seized power following the battlefield death of President Idriss Deby in April 2021, a spokesman said.
Deby’s son Mahamat Idriss is leading the military transition which is yet to timetable a return to constitutional rule.
“We are demonstrating against France for its support for the transitional military council,” said Mahmoud Moussa, a high school teacher in the Chadian capital who joined the protest.
A spokesman for the transitional government could not be reached for comment.
Protesters vandalised several petrol stations in N’djamena operated by French oil major TotalEnergies. Some torched French flags, while a Russian flag was hoisted on a mast in central N’djamena, according to a Reuters reporter.
As France’s influence wanes in its former colonies, recent protests in countries such as Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger have seen calls for increased military ties with Russia instead of France.
Chad is seen as a strong ally of the west in the fight against Islamist militants in the region. Several Western countries, including France, maintain troops at bases in the country.
Chad’s capital is the central command hub for France’s counter-terrorism operation for the West Africa region. Around French 1,000 troops are based there.
The French embassy in N’djamena was not immediately available to comment on the protest.
Last week, the embassy denied a rumour that France was planning to install new French military bases in Chad, calling it an attempt at misinformation.
(Reporting by Madjiasra Nako; Writing by Bate Felix; Editing by Christina Fincher)