Chad opposition vows to hold public march despite ban

N'Djamena - Civil society activists in Chad said on Wednesday that they were planning to hold a major anti-government march to protest "anti-social measures", despite a ban by authorities against such demonstrations.

"We held a press conference (on Monday) where we decided not to accept the systematic bans placed on our planned peaceful marches," said Mahamat Nour Ibedou, an activist and president of the Chadian Convention for Human Rights.

A coalition of civic groups are planning to "organise a public demonstration against the anti-social measures already taken by the government," he said, adding that a date had not yet been fixed.

Ibedou described the government as having "double standards" when it came to public marches.

In late November, several hundred people were allowed to demonstrate against the US travel ban, after Chad was included on the list of countries whose citizens were indefinitely blocked from entering the US.

A few days later, however, police prevented protesters from holding a march to "denounce the dictatorial regime" of President Idriss Deby, who won another five-year term last year after 26 years of ruling the central African nation.

"If authorities allow a protest in their favour, we too have the right to protest," Ibedou said.

Ibedou and three other opposition leaders were arrested in April 2016 for "attempting an unarmed gathering" ahead of the presidential election. They were each given a four-month suspended sentence.

The government banned demonstrations after protests erupted in February 2016 over the gang rape of a teenage girl that was blamed on the sons of top figures in Deby's regime.

Four days after the ban, a student was killed and five wounded when police opened fire to break up a protest at Faya Largeau in the north.