Chad’s long-term president dies
Idriss Déby, the president of Chad, died on Monday while visiting troops on the front line in the north of the country, on the same day as the electoral commission declared him the winner of the 11 April presidential elections. According to a military statement on Tuesday, Déby was reportedly fatally wounded in fighting with the rebel Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT), which had infiltrated the country from Libya on election day. According to the constitution, the speaker of the National Assembly should have taken over as president, but a transition charter published on Wednesday announced the establishment of a 15-member military council. The current government and the National Assembly were dissolved. The army appointed Mahamat Idriss Déby, the son of the late head of state, as chairman of the military council and new president. The 37-year-old four-star general, who has played a leading role in the army since 2013 and took part in the anti-terror operation in Mali as deputy head of the Chadian armed forces, is to take over the country’s fortunes for a transitional period of initially 18 months, which can, however, be extended once with a two-thirds majority, according to the charter. Numerous opposition parties criticise the military’s actions as an illegal coup d’état. Civil society also voices criticism and calls for the formation of a civilian transitional government. The FACT also rejects the takeover by Déby’s son and announced that it will continue its march on the capital. Under the late Déby, who ruled the country authoritatively for over 30 years, Chad established itself as a close ally of the West in the fight against jihadism in the Sahel region. As a member of the G5 Sahel military alliance, Chad plays a central role in ensuring stability in the region. Accordingly, the former colonial power France, which has already pledged its support to the new president despite his unconstitutional assumption of office, is particularly concerned about the current developments.
Growing pressure on Somalia’s president after controversial term extension
After Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, also known as Farmaajo, signed a law last week allowing him to remain in office for another two years, international criticism of the process has increased. After the African Union, the United Nations, the European Union and the regional organization Intergovernmental Authority on Development(IGAD) had already announced in a joint declaration that they did not support Farmaajo’s term extension, this was also rejected by members of the UN Security Council on Tuesday. The council had come together for an informal meeting at the request of the opposition group National Salvation Forum (NSF). Only the lower house of the Somali parliament voted on the law to extend the president’s office; it had not been submitted to the upper house. The President of the Senate condemned the move as unconstitutional, observers fear that the already fragile stability of the country would be endangered. The president’s term originally expired on February 8; that of the federal parliament in December last year. Due to disagreements over electoral formalities, however, it was not possible to hold elections in time, which had led to a constitutional crisis in the country. The extension of Farmaajo’s term of office should now serve to prepare for the first direct elections in the country. After the decision, opposition protests broke out in the capital Mogadishu, who regard the president’s renewal as a threat to peace and security in the country. President Farmaajo met Félix Tshisekedi, the current chairman of the African Union, earlier this week to discuss the AU‘s possible role as a mediator in talks between the Somali parties to the conflict. While Tshisekedi agreed to support such a dialogue, it initially remained open what this process should look like in detail.
In other news
200 trees for her 15th and 500 trees for her 16th birthday – this is how Leah Namugerwa, a young environmental activist from Uganda, wants to do her part to counteract the decline of forests. By 2020, more than 12 million hectares of tropical forest land alone will have been lost worldwide, and the trend is rising. With the help of social media, she has been successfully inspiring more and more young people to join her as part of the initiative Fridays for Future and to also replant forests on their birthdays. The courageous climate activist has set herself the goal of advancing her call for environmental protection worldwide and planting 1,000,000 trees.
On the occasion of World Malaria Day on 25 April 2021, the documentary film “The Fever – The Fight Against Malaria” will celebrate its online premiere next Sunday. It documents the search for local and cost-effective medicines in Africa against the life-threatening disease and allows exclusively African voices to have their say. The premiere will be followed by a live talk with the director Katharina Weingartner and Dr Grace Nambatya Kyeyune from the Research Institute for Natural Chemotherapeutics and the Ministry of Health of Uganda, among others. The free live stream of the film, which can be accessed worldwide, can be found here.