France shifts stance on Chad transition calling for civilian government

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PARIS (Reuters) - France on Tuesday moved away from backing a civilian-military transition in Chad calling for a civilian national unity government to be put in place to run its former colony until elections within 18 months.

After President Idriss Deby's death, a military council headed by his son, Mahamat Idriss Deby, seized power and said it would oversee an 18-month transition to elections. Opposition politicians called this a coup.

The military council has been under pressure to hand over power to a civilian transitional government as soon as possible. The African Union has expressed "grave concern" about the military takeover, while France until now had pushed for a civilian-military solution.

"They (France and Democratic Republic of Congo) recall their support for a inclusive transition process open to all Chadian political forces, led by a civilian national unity government that should lead to elections within an 18-month delay," the French presidency said in a joint statement after Emmanuel Macron held talks with Democratic Republic of Congo counterpart Felix Tshisekedi.

Macron earlier condemned the treatment of protesters in Chad, where at least two people were killed and 27 injured as demonstrators took to the streets demanding a return to civilian rule.

(Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Bate Felix)