France probes Chad leader over luxury clothing spendingTue, 02 Jul 2024 17:28:36 GMT

French prosecutors have ordered an inquiry into allegations that Chad’s president embezzled public funds to splurge on luxury clothing from Paris, a source close to the case said Tuesday.Investigators have been looking into “the clothing expenses of Chad President Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno” since January, the source said, requesting anonymity.French investigative outlet Mediapart published in December a story in which it alleged that the Chadian leader, through two bank transfers, spent more than 900,000 euros ($965,000) on suits, shirts and other luxury items from the French capital.A spokesman for the Chadian presidency, Armand Gambaye Ndjegoltar Ndjerakor, said he hoped the investigation would “establish the truth and dispel the intention of harming the reputation of the Chadian president”.He said the president preferred traditional Chadian clothing to suits, accusing an adviser of “political manipulation”.Ndjegoltar said that the adviser had bought Western outfits for the leader that he wore only “two or three times”, and that did not know how they were purchased.Deby succeeded his father as leader of Chad, one of the poorest countries in the world, in April 2021, aged just 37.Mediapart said the payments were made in December 2021 and May 2023 “from a mysterious company called MHK Full Business, registered in N’Djamena and holding an account with the Chari Commercial Bank, one of eight banking establishments approved in Chad”.It said a spokesman for the Chadian presidency did not respond to a request for comment on the origin of the funds.Deby was proclaimed transitional president after his father, the iron-fisted president Idriss Deby Itno, was killed by rebels after 30 years in power. He won elections in May, officially becoming president, though the country’s opposition has been violently repressed and its leading figures were barred from standing in the vote.Up to 35 percent of Chad’s population live in extreme poverty on less than $2.15 a day, according to World Bank figures for last year.Chad has been an oil-producing country since 2003, and the World Bank says the country has become highly dependent on the resource. It is the last Sahel country to host French soldiers after withdrawals from Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger in recent years.But sources last month told AFP that Paris was planning to cut back its presence there from 1,000 military personnel to around 300.Deby has met with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris in November 2021, February 2022, and in February and June 2023.