Anti-French sentiment, which has been sweeping across the Sahel, has now reached Chad, exemplified by the violent protests organized by the political opposition (Al-Jazeera, 16 May 2022). As Africa News reported on 17 May 2022, five opposition leaders were arrested and jailed on charges of public disturbance during the demonstrations against France. Seven fuel stations belonging to the French oil company Total were vandalized and at least 12 police officers injured during the demonstrations.
World Watch Research analyst Yonas Dembele comments: “The protestors accuse France of supporting the military take-over of the government, which suspended both Parliament and the Constitution after the death of former President Idris Deby in April 2021, who was known to be a long-time ally of France. The violent protests in Chad illustrate the fragility of the country, made worse by the lack of democracy, with civilian rule still yet to return. This situation adds fuel and determination for the rebel groups to keep fighting, which results in insecurity and affects mostly civilians.”
Yonas Dembele continues: “The anti-French sentiment could also lead to a scaling down of French support in the fight against violent Islamic militancy in the Sahel. This would seriously endanger Christian communities in the Sahel. It raises questions as to whether the Sahelian governments like Chad will be able to defeat the Islamist groups without international support – especially from France, which has many years’ experience fighting Islamic militancy in the region.”