Chadian unions and rights groups on Friday pulled out of several state institutions, including the election commission, saying they felt “gagged” in the run-up to closely-watched presidential polls. The announcement of the groups’ withdrawal from Chad’s electoral commission and other bodies comes a day after the trial of four leading activists held on controversial charges of disturbing the peace was postponed, prolonging their detention. “Given the decision to maintain our comrades in detention, we have decided to withdraw” delegates from forums including the CENI (electoral commission), Goukouni Vaima, the deputy head of the UST labour federation, told a press conference.
Oil-rich Chad, whose people are among the poorest in the world, has faced unprecedented protests in recent weeks as longtime leader Idriss Deby Itno seeks to extend his 26-year rule.
“We feel gagged,” Vaima said, vowing that a protest march planned for April 5 would go ahead, despite a government ban on the rally.
Vaima said the UST and three allied protest movements called “That’s Enough”, “Too Much Is Too Much” and “We’re Tired” (Iyina in Chadian Arabic) were also pulling out of Chad’s economic and social council, oil revenue transparency watchdogs and a forum for political dialogue.