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article image'Day of anger' in Chad sees low turnout and security lockdown

By AFP     Feb 8, 2018 in World

Plans for a "day of anger" in the Chadian capital failed to materialise Thursday, with just a few dozen protesters marching against austerity amid a large police presence, a day after the government suspended 10 opposition parties.

The planned protest across N'Djamena by civil society groups, trade unions and opposition politicians was banned by the authorities in advance, citing security reasons.

But civil society leader Mahamat Nour Ibedou and about 20 other people staged a small demonstration in the city centre on Thursday morning.

A separate group of some 10 people also protested in the south of the city, chanting slogans against President Idriss Deby, who has ruled Chad with an iron fist for 27 years.

This "day of anger is a day of joy because people have gone about their business," police spokesman Paul Manga told AFP, confirming the small number of demonstrators.

On Wednesday, the government suspended 10 opposition parties for two months for "disturbing public order" and "inciting violence" after they backed the protests.

A day earlier, opposition politicians took part in another march that was dispersed by police, causing injuries, according to the opposition.

Trade unions have initiated a number of strikes in the last two weeks over the state of the economy.

A Western ally in combating jihadism in the volatile Sahara region, Chad has endured two years of severe recession worsened by a slump in oil prices.

The impoverished Sahel state is imposing cuts in public spending that the finance ministry says are vital to stave off bankruptcy.

But the cuts have increased social tension and anger towards Deby.

Almost half the population of 14 million lives below the poverty line, according to the World Bank.

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