Chad ban on protests “justified” by security fears, says minister

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Chad’s interior minister has said that a ban on some protests in the country is justified because of security risks.

It comes after a coalition of activist groups earlier this week said they were planning to defy the ban and hold a major anti-government march.

Interior minister Ahmat Bachir told AFP: “My first concern is security. It’s me who judges the degree of security.

“When the protestors are marching, they don’t know who is around them. Onlookers, terrorists and thugs can be at the march,” he said late Thursday.

Mahamat Nour Ibedou, an activist and president of the Chadian Convention for Human Rights on Wednesday said the coalition is organising a public demonstration “against the anti-social measures already taken by the government”, adding that a date had not yet been fixed.

He described the government as having “double standards” when it came to public marches.

In late November, several hundred people were allowed to demonstrate against the US travel ban, after Chad was included on the list of countries whose citizens were indefinitely blocked from entering the US.

A few days later, however, police prevented protesters from holding a march to “denounce the dictatorial regime” of President Idriss Deby, who won another five-year term last year after 26 years of ruling the central African nation.

The government banned demonstrations after protests erupted in February 2016 over the gang rape of a teenage girl that was blamed on the sons of top figures in Deby’s regime.

Four days after the ban, a student was killed and five wounded when police opened fire to break up a protest at Faya Largeau in the north.