Succes Masra had earlier announced he would return on October 18 but authorities in Chad threatened to arrest him. Photo: Reuters

One of Chad's main opposition leaders returned from exile three days after he reached an agreement with the country's military leaders.

Succes Masra, president of The Transformers party, went into exile a year ago following the bloody repression of demonstrations he had called for.

His return on Friday was confirmed to AFP by Aziz Mahamat Saleh, minister of communication and government spokesman.

He provided no further details.

‘Free exercise of political activities’

The timing of Masra's return was kept secret by both sides of the accord, signed on Tuesday in the DR Congo capital, Kinshasa.

Masra had earlier announced he would return on October18 but the authorities released an international arrest warrant dating from June and detained at least 72 youths preparing a public welcome.

Under the agreement mediated by the Democratic Republic of Congo, the government "committed" to "facilitate the return" and the "legal and physical" security of Masra, and "guarantee the free exercise of his political activities".

In exchange, the opposition leader promised to "maintain dialogue towards a peaceful political solution" in Chad.

Military rule

Wakit Tamma, another leading opposition group, refused to recognise the accord on Wednesday.

Many of its leaders remain in exile.

Masra has opposed the leadership of Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, who was proclaimed president by a military junta in 2021.

Along with other opposition leaders, Masra was forced into exile several days after the bloody repression of demonstrations held on October 20, 2022 to protest military rule.

About 50 people, according to the government, or at least 300 according to the opposition and independent observers, were killed by police and military fire in the capital N'Djamena. Most were young men and adolescents.

Hundreds jailed

At least another 600, including 80 children, were rounded up and sent to an infamous remote desert jail, where most were convicted and sentenced to prison in a mass trial, before being pardoned by Deby.

Deby, then a 37-year-old general, was proclaimed transitional president by the army on April 20, 2021 following the death of his father, Idriss Deby Itno, who had run Chad as a dictator for 30 years and was killed by rebels while visiting frontline troops.

Mahamat Deby had promised elections within 18 months, but after that date had passed put off a vote for another two years.