African Union Gives Chad Junta Deadline to Restore Democracy

The African Union gave Chad an 18-month deadline to restore democracy, after a military takeover last month.

Any attempt by army officers currently in control of the central African nation to extend their rule would be “unacceptable,” the continental body said in a statement Thursday, without specifying what the repercussions might be. It also urged interim President Mahamat Idriss Deby and other members of the junta to respect their commitment to not participate in the next election.

The sudden death of long-time President Idriss Deby last month threw Chad into a state of uncertainty. Deby’s son, Mahamat Idriss, replaced him and heads a 15-member military council that will lead the oil-producing nation for the next 18 months.

Chad is an important military ally to the U.S. and former colonial power France in the battle against Islamist militants in West Africa’s Sahel region. France has about 1,000 troops as part of a 3,000-strong counter terrorism force in the capital, N’Djamena. Domestic instability could jeopardize the well-trained Chadian army’s willingness to fight the spread of Islamic State-affiliated groups in the Sahel.

The AU said it’s “deeply concerned” about the security situation in Chad and the presence of “mercenaries and former fighters from Libya.”

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