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Chad Ex-opposition Figure Named PM

FILE - Longtime Chadian politician and opposition leader Saleh Kebzabo, the President of the National Union for Democracy and Renewal poses after an interview with AFP at his residence in N'djamena, on April 12, 2021. (Photo by MARCO LONGARI /AFP)

Veteran politician and former opposition figure Saleh Kebzabo has been appointed Chad's next prime minister, according to a decree issued Wednesday by military leader and interim President Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno.

Former journalist Kebzabo, 75, ran four times for the presidency against Deby's father, Idriss Deby Itno, who was killed during an operation against rebels in April 2021 and was succeed by a junta headed by his son, a 38-year-old five-star general.

Speaking to journalists on Wednesday, Kebzabo thanked Deby for giving "his confidence to work together for two years to lead the transition," adding that "all freedoms must be respected" as the county takes on challenges.

Chad Interim PM: 'All Freedoms Must Be Respected'
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Chad's former prime minister, Albert Pahimi Padacke, resigned along with his government on Tuesday, a day after the country's military leader announced the creation of a "government of national union" to chart the path to new elections.

Deby, a 38-year-old five-star general, took the helm in April 2021 after his father, Idriss Deby Itno, who had ruled for three decades, was killed during an operation against rebels.

Deby's junta had originally declared its plan was to restore civilian rule after 18 months in power.

But as this deadline neared, a nationwide forum staged by Deby set a new 24-month timeframe for holding new elections and named him president for the interim.

Cameron Hudson, a senior associate at Africa Program Center for Strategic and International Studies, told VOA that "it's unfortunate that the international community didn't push more strongly to ensure that this was not the outcome."

Chad Ex-opposition Politician Named PM
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"I think what we've seen is a pattern among coup leaders across the continent in the last few years whereby rather than simply seizing power and declaring themselves presidency, they declare some kind of interim transition period," Hudson said.

The conference wound up at the weekend after being boycotted by the main political opposition and two out of the three biggest armed rebel groups.

Promising a "democratic" vote at the end of the transition period, Deby on Monday promised the new government would be formed "in the next few days."