chad's opposition leader succès masra to return after year long exile

Chad’s Opposition Leader Succès Masra to Return After Year-Long Exile

Agreement for Return

Chad’s political landscape is poised for a significant development with the imminent return of key opposition figure Succès Masra. An agreement for his return has been reached between Chad’s military administration and Masra, who spent a year in forced exile following a violent protest. The facilitation of this agreement, taking place in Kinshasa, is overseen by the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

“Agreement in Principle” Signed

In a press release, the President of the DRC, Félix Tshisekedi, confirmed the signing of an “agreement in principle” between Chad’s transition government and the political party Les Transformateurs. The accord’s primary objective is to enable the return of Chad’s opposition leader, Succès Masra. However, specific details of the arrangement and the timeline for Masra’s return have not been disclosed.

Exile Following Lethal Protest

Masra, along with several other opposition leaders, was compelled to leave Chad shortly after General Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno’s administration violently suppressed opposition demonstrations on October 20, 2022. The government claimed at least 50 fatalities, while NGOs and the opposition reported estimates exceeding 300 casualties, predominantly young men and teenagers. These victims fell to bullets fired by police and military forces.

Humanitarian Crisis and Mass Trials

In the aftermath of the brutal crackdown, over 600 young individuals, including 80 children, were detained in a desolate desert prison. The majority of them faced mass trials without legal representation, although Mahamat Déby eventually granted them a pardon.

Transition and Upcoming Vote

General Mahamat Déby assumed the presidency on April 20, 2021, following the death of his father, Idriss Déby Itno, who had ruled Chad for three decades. The new leader initially pledged “free” elections after an 18-month transition period, later extended to a total of 24 months, with an additional two-year extension. A crucial vote on December 17 will decide the adoption of a new constitution to pave the way for future elections.

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Return of Displaced Individuals

The agreement also entails the return of “all those who had to leave Chadian territory.” The accord was signed by Presidents Tshisekedi and Masra, as well as Chad’s Minister of Reconciliation, Abderaman Koulamallah. While the date of Masra’s homecoming remains unspecified, he expressed hope in Chad’s progress toward justice and equality.

Human Rights Concerns

Human Rights Watch (HRW) reports the arrest of at least 72 young members or supporters of Les Transformateurs, who were detained in N’Djamena on October 8 as they prepared for Masra’s announced return. HRW condemns the military authorities for persisting in limiting political dissent and urges the pursuit of true democracy to foster universal suffrage and lasting peace.