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Chad’s President Promises Fight against Terrorism in Fifth Term | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Chadian President Idriss Deby, January 31, 2016. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

Nouakchott-Veteran President Idriss Deby Itno of Chad has promised “a relentless battle against terrorism everywhere it threatens our interests and our security.”

However, he is facing internal challenges especially that the economic situation of the African country is very weak, freedom of speech is not allowed and protests rejecting results of the elections have increased recently.

Deby has been sworn in for a fifth consecutive five-year term, following his April 10 electoral victory that was contested by the opposition.

Deby, who came to power in 1990 after overthrowing then president Hissene Habre, won the elections in the first round with 59.92 percent of the votes against almost 13 percent for opposition leader Saleh Kebzabo, according to the national election commission.

During the swearing in ceremony that was held on Monday in the capital N’Djamena and was attended by 14 other African leaders, the 64-year-old president appealed to all citizens “wherever they may be, that regardless of our differences, we should work together to rebuild our nation.”

“I am the president of all Chadians,” Deby said in his inauguration speech.

Jean-Yves Le Drian, defense minister of former colonial power France, also attended the ceremony to the dismay of the opposition, which wants the international community to recognize the “dictatorial nature” of Deby’s regime.

Kebzabo said he was “surprised and disappointed” by France’s decision to send a high-ranking representative.

He said that the opposition was holding a general strike on Monday to create what it called a “dead city” in protest against Deby’s return to power.

Opposition activists have also announced the filing of a complaint in court alleging “high treason” by Deby, claiming “illegal taking of power by violence” and “misuse of public money.”

The opposition called Deby’s re-election a “political hold-up,” saying its own count showed no candidate won outright in the first round.

The election campaign was marred by a clampdown on demonstrations by unions and rights groups demanding a change of leadership and democratic reforms.

Arrests and disappearances of activists are common in the nation of 12 million people.

The situation in Chad, which is a key player in the fight against west African jihadist groups, has been tense in recent months, and as an oil producer its economy has suffered from the global fall in crude prices.

The African country is an active ally of Western nations and its neighbors in the battle against the Nigeria-based Islamist group Boko Haram, and N’Djamena is the headquarters for France’s Barkhane anti-jihadist force.

Despite the regime’s strict security set-up, Chad has seen unusual social tension this year, and strikes by officials over late salary payments have been growing