N’DJAMENA (Reuters) – Sobbing relatives on Friday stood around a coffin holding the body of Chadian journalist Oredje Narcisse, 31, one of dozens of people killed in the violence that erupted from pro-democracy protests last week.
Narcisse was shot in front of his home in Chad’s capital N’Djamena on Oct. 20, when hundreds demonstrated across Chad to demand a quicker transition to civilian rule after the military government pushed back promised elections by two years.
His neighbour Iya Sisi saw Narcisse fall to the ground after a bullet hit his chest. He was rushed to hospital in a taxi but died soon after arriving.
“There were no ambulances to take him to hospital because of the unrest,” Sisi told Reuters before the funeral, with chorists humming in the background as people filed in to pay their last respects.
Narcisse’s widow stood by with their one-year-old child.
Narcisse, a radio journalist who had worked with Reuters in the past, was heading out to cover the banned demonstrations when security forces intervened.
Chad’ military leader Mahamat Deby has described the protests as an armed insurrection aiming to “seize power”, but rights groups say security forces fired live rounds on unarmed civilians.
At least 50 people died and some 300 were wounded, according to the government, which has opened an investigation.
“We demand justice and reparations for the family,” said Narcisse’s older brother, Apollinaire Rititingar.
Multiple burials were held across N’Djamena on Friday despite heavy flooding barring access to the city’s main cemetery. The funerals had already been delayed for autopsies and body counts.
Sporadic protests have broken out in Chad since Deby seized power in April 2021 after the battlefield death of his father, long-standing ruler Idriss Deby.
But tensions have flared since new resolutions adopted this month pushed back elections to 2024 and allowed Deby to run for president in the eventual vote.
(Reporting by Mahamat Ramadane; Writing by Sofia Christensen; Editing by Nellie Peyton and Josie Kao)