State of emergency lifted in north and eastern Chad
Chad's government on Saturday lifted the five-month state of emergency in the north and the east of the country, hailing a campaign to disarm civilians and quell deadly ethnic violence between farmers and herders from rival ethnic groups. "10,000 weapons of all calibers have been recovered," Defence Minister Mahamat Abali Sala said at a ceremony in the east at which he announced that the state of emergency "has reached its objectives".
The emergency measures were imposed in August in the Quaddai and Sila regions in the east, bordering Sudan, and Tabesti in the north of the country, near the frontier with lawless Libya. Tensions between indigenous settled farmers and nomadic Arab herders in the central African landlocked country have simmered for years in the regions, sometimes erupting into deadly clashes. The disputes are often over access to grazing land or trampled crops.
President Idriss Deby has blamed the surge in violence partly on an influx of guns to Chad from conflict zones in neighboring Libya, Central African Republic and Sudan. The disarmament operation was carried out with no particular problems, said General Ousmane Bahar Mahat Itno, in charge of coordinating the state of emergency in Ouaddai.
The defense minister said that the disarmament committee would be reinforced to maintain security throughout the country, which has also been hit by jihadist attacks in a conflict that has spilled over from northeast Nigeria. Rights experts had voiced concern that the state of emergency gave unlimited powers to the security forces and would lead to human rights abuses.
Chadian rights activist Jean-Bosco Manga had reservations about the disarmament operations in the north and east, even if it had led to a drop in violence. "It is true that there seems to be a relative lull in these provinces, but it is at the cost of the violations of the fundamental freedoms of the citizens as well as of the economic life, which took a big blow", he told AFP.
Sila Governor Kedelah Younous Hamidi also voiced misgivings. "The calm in Sila is a deceptive calm, an ephemeral calm and all the ingredients for a resumption of hostility are there," he told AFP. A significant number of weapons remained in circulation, he added.
The state of emergency was imposed in August after more than 50 people were killed in fighting in Sila. Measures included a curfew, a ban on riding motorbikes -- which are often used for hit-and-run attacks -- and the closure of Chad's borders with Sudan and Libya.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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