Chad: monthly report October 2023

A month characterized by the maneuvers of military regimes in the region, which, despite their rhetoric, are starting to show significant weaknesses. In Burkina Faso, the government announced that it had thwarted a coup attempt on the night between Thursday, September 26, and Friday, September 27 thanks to its internal intelligence. Army judiciary claimed that four officers belonging to the national gendarmerie whose names and ranks are unknown are being investigated for their involvement in the coup attempt. A significant reshuffle of military roles in the national army took place after the coup. The most important change occurred at the helm of the national gendarmerie, where the Chief of Staff, Evrard Somda, was removed following Traoré’s personal decision, and Lieutenant Colonel Natama Kouagri, the former head of the special forces of the gendarmerie, was appointed in his place. On September 29, a month after his last public appearance, the head of the transitional government addressed the nation on national television. Traoré claimed that elections are not a priority for Burkina Faso, compared to the security crisis and assessed how they will only be held after a constitutional reform. The goal of the reform according to Traoré is to make the Constitution "more representative of the masses." In the meantime, the government has presented a reform project for the Superior Council of Communication, which aims to facilitate the allocation and, above all, the withdrawal of radio and television frequencies by national authorities. At the same time, the relations with Russia continue to strengthen, with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Rosatom agency for the construction of a nuclear power plant. According to Burkina Faso’s Minister of Mines, Simon-Pierre Boussim, Ouagadougou aims to build its first nuclear power plant by 2030 to meet the country's increased energy needs.

In Niger, the transitional government continues its hardline stance against the international community. The junta has expelled the UN country coordinator, Louise Aubin, following UN Secretary-General's decision to prevent the Nigerien delegation appointed after the July coup from participating to the latest General Assembly. In this context, the United States government has officially recognized the removal of Mohamed Bazoum as a coup. As a result, under existing laws, the US has indefinitely suspended all forms of military cooperation with the country. Diplomatic sources in Washington, explained that it has become clear to Washington that the government led by General Tiani has no intention of following constitutional norms and also that representatives of the new government are drafting a new Constitution that does not guarantee the return of power to a civilian government. In this context, a raid reportedly attempted to free the deposed president, Mohamed Bazoum. Transitional authorities in Niamey announced this through a statement broadcast on national television. According to the Nigerien junta, some members of the security forces loyal to the former president allegedly tried to free Bazoum and take him to safety in Nigeria. The liberation attempt was reportedly thwarted by the security forces who arrested some of the individuals involved. Local sources report mass arrests in the hours following the attempted liberation and that the president and his family – who are allegedly in good health - members were moved to a new detention location within the Presidential Palace. Bazoum and his family are said to be in good health. The junta's statements are disputed by other sources, asserting that the liberation attempt never took place and it was used as an excuse for the subsequent mass arrests.

While Niamey continues to distance itself from its former partners, there is an increase in relations with other juntas in the region. More specifically Niger's appointed prime minister, Lamine Zeine met with his Malian counterpart, Choguel Maïga, in Bamako where they held a joint working session accompanied by their defense ministers and agreed to provide mutual assistance to tackle the multidimensional crises affecting both countries. Zeine and Maïga emphasized the need to diversify their partnerships in the defense sector, with a not-so-subtle allusion to a possible further strengthening of cooperation with Moscow. Despite the rhetoric, Niamey is starting to feel the pressure of isolation and sanctions. The government has cut 40% of its public spending since the last budget law, following the reduction in humanitarian aid from international organizations and allied countries. The state budget has dropped from 3.29 trillion CFA francs to 1.98 trillion CFA francs. To address these issues, Niger’s government has established a national solidarity fund, financed through extraordinary withdrawals from the accounts of national service companies.

The month in Mali was marked by armed clashes in the north. The Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA) announced that they have captured an army base in Bamba, Gao region. This military installation is considered a strategic outpost for the control of the region, and for the moment, the Malian Ministry of Defense reports intense fighting in the area without, however, denying the CMA's claims. Bamba is the fourth military installation attacked since the beginning of the clashes with the northern armed groups at the end of August. The Malian Armed Forces (FAMA) have started moving toward the city of Kidal to regain its control following the withdrawal of the UN peacekeeping mission (MINUSMA). Kidal also has a strategic role as a hotspot for controlling trade and migratory flows towards the Algerian border. Clashes have occurred in the village of Anefis, 11 kilometers south of the city. The FAMA claimed to have gained control of the city, while the rebel groups labeled these statements as propaganda. Another contingent of the Malian army, supported by Wagner Group members, clashed with CSP forces in Tarkint, where the rebels allegedly shot down an aircraft from Bamako's air force. New allegations of violence by the Malian armed forces and the Wagner Group have emerged during the offensive. According to local sources, both actors are accused of committing various acts of violence against civilians. In Anefis, FAMA and Wagner have clashed against CSP militias and executed seventeen civilians in the aftermath of the fighting. Subsequently, in Ersane (Gao region), about ten civilians were beheaded after the arrival of government troops and Russian mercenaries - a kind of event that has occurred in the past in other countries where the Wagner Group was deployed. Despite the Malian government's appeals for national unity, the war in the north has not calmed public anger towards the transitional authorities especially in the aftermath of the postponement of national elections. Among the critical voices is that of the M5-RFP movement, historically pro-Russian and anti-French, from which the current Prime Minister, Choguel Maïga, hails. In an official statement, the group's spokespeople have urged the transitional government to "keep the commitments made." The transitional government has not responded to the statements, and the presidential spokesperson has merely stated that the new election date "will be announced in due course." Among the critics is also Imam Dicko, one of the most influential religious leaders in the country.

Download the October 2023 report