Chad’s government says its security forces foiled an attempt by a group of army officers to destabilise the country and undermine constitutional order.
“This plan was devised by a restricted group of conspirators composed of 11 army officers,” the government said in a statement on Thursday, adding that Baradine Berdei Targuio, president of the Chadian Human Rights Organisation, was at the helm of it.
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A group of 11 officers, including Targuio, was behind the attempt, according to the government statement which also said security services arrested those responsible after December 8.
A formal investigation had been opened for “violation of the constitutional order, criminal association, illegal possession of a firearm and complicity”, said Communications Minister and government spokesman Aziz Mahamat Saleh.
The investigating magistrate leading the case has charged them and ordered their detention, he added.
“The investigation is following its course and the government means to do everything to shed light on this affair and to determine responsibility,” Saleh said.
In February 2021, Targuio was sentenced to three years in jail on charges of undermining the constitutional order for having written that Chad’s then-leader, General Idriss Deby Itno, was seriously ill.
Deby, who died in April last year, was replaced by his son, General Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno.
Outlawed demonstrations were held on October 20 last year to mark the date when the military government had initially promised to cede power – a deadline that has now been extended by two years. About 50 people died, including 10 members of the security forces, according to an official toll.
But opposition groups say the real count was much higher, and allege that unarmed civilians were massacred.
Deby accused the demonstrators of “insurrection” and attempting to stage a coup.
According to authorities, 601 people, including 83 minors, were arrested in the N’Djamena area alone and taken to Koro Toro, a high-security jail located in the desert 600km (375 miles) from the capital.
A total of 401 people were put on trial in a court at the jail, proceedings that lawyers boycotted in protest.
After a four-day trial, 262 people were jailed for two to three years, 80 were given suspended terms and 59 were acquitted, the prosecutor said.