N’DJAMENA, 20 February 2021 – A criminal court in the Chadian capital, N’Djamena, has sentenced an activist to three years in prison for claiming President Idriss Deby Itno is very ill.

The activist, Baradine Berdei Targuio, is the leader of the Chadian Organization of Human Rights.

Idriss Deby Itno - Photo Le Point

Idriss Deby Itno – Photo Le Point

He was arrested in January 2020 for a Facebook posting in which he claimed that President Deby was seriously ill and was reportedly undergoing treatment in France.

The N’Djamena Criminal Court found him guilty of “attacking the constitutional order”.

A Busy Chadian Street - Photo Medium

A Busy Chadian Street – Photo Medium

Chadian opposition leader, Saleh Kebzabo, decried the sentence, calling it  “an unjustified and anachronistic political sanction”.

Kebzabo also called for the immediate and unconditional release of the activist.

President Deby is running for a record sixth term as president when Chadians go to the polls next April.

His ruling Patriotic Salvation Movement (MPS) has dominated Chadian politics since Deby drove former president, Hissene Habre, from power in December 1990 at the helm of an armed insurrection.

A constitution, revised and promulgated into law in 2018, allows President Deby to run for two additional consecutive terms of six years when his current term comes to an end.

Mother and Child at the Festival of the Wodaabe in Chad - Festivals Abroad

Mother and Child at the Festival of the Wodaabe in Chad – Festivals Abroad

Children in School in Chad - Photo UNICEF

Children in School in Chad – Photo UNICEF

The Chadian government banned anti-government protests last week, claiming that they could lead to disturbances to public order.

Landlocked Chad, with a population of 13 million inhabitants, is ranked last on the World Bank’s Human Capital Index and 187th out of 189 countries on the United Nations Development Index.

About 20 percent of children born in Chad do not live to their fifth birthday; 40 percent of those who survive are stunted; and children aged between four and 18 years spend less than five years in school.

While its poverty rate fell from 55 percent in 2003 to 47 percent in 2011, the actual number of people living in poverty rose from 4.7 million in 2003 to 6.3 million in 2019.

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