The African Union has asked the Transitional Military Council of Chad to respect its commitments, particularly in terms of deadlines.
Accused of silence after the takeover of Mahamat Idriss Deby in Chad, the African Union (AU) was expected at the turn. In its constitutive charter, the AU, of which the Chadian presidency is a member, plans to condemn "unconstitutional changes of government", in its article 4. However, the organization remained passive after the seizure of power, on April 20, by the Transitional Military Council in place of the president of the Chadian parliament, after the death of Marshal Idriss Déby.
A month later, the African Union finally brought up the subject. No condemnation of the way the events unfolded but rather a warning. This Thursday, May 20, the AU Peace and Security Council underlined "the absolute need for the transition to democratic rule to be completed within the 18-month deadline announced by the CMT from April 20, 2021". The council says " categorically that any form of extension of the transition period prolonging the restoration of constitutional order cannot be acceptable to the AU ”.
A press release that sounds like an ultimatum. But also as a privilege for the CMT, which escapes the sanctions provided for by the AU charter. In early May, the African organization sent a mission to Chad, before possibly taking sanctions against the country. In the end, the latter never arrived and the African Union offered, half-heartedly, a simple accompaniment.
What made Chad benefit from such leniency from the African Union? The latter recalled that she rejected "totally (...) any unconstitutional change of government on the continent ”. But the power in place in N'Djamena could certainly count on mitigating circumstances: the Chad is indeed "facing serious and multifaceted attacks", and the AU did not want to add sanctions to the risk of chaos that threatens the country.
Already under pressure from the international community, the military ended up appointing a transitional government of civilians on May 2 and promised the creation of a National Transitional Council (CNT) to replace parliament. The AU demanded that this CNT be "put in place as a matter of urgency" and that a "clear and precise mandate" be determined in order to "draft a new Constitution". The Constitution had been suspended upon the death of Marshal Déby.
Priority to the protection of fundamental freedoms
In short, the African Union calls on the current leaders of Chad to "respect the commitment they have made not to run for office or not to take part in the next free, fair and credible elections at the end of the period of transition ”. The transitional government must, finally, " accelerate the process of organizing an inclusive and transparent national dialogue and national reconciliation, ”demanded the AU, believing that this should be done within the next three months.
The AU Peace and Security Council also wanted to reassure human rights activists and political opponents, all worried about the organization's silence after Mahamat Idriss Deby took power. The PSC demands that the Prime Minister give " priority to the promotion, protection and safeguard of human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Chadians ”.
If the AU statement sounds like a formal ultimatum, it above all allows it to play for time. While the European Parliament has just voted a resolution which "asks the junta to allow elections as quickly as possible", the African Union seems a little lost in the Chadian file. The organization will have to remain vigilant over the next eighteen months. If the transition period is extended, it will surely take sanctions against Chad. But we are not there yet.