N'Djamena - Police in Chad arrested a fifth leading activist on Monday on the eve of a banned anti-government rally planned days before polls in which President Idrissy Deby Itno is seeking to extend his 26-year rule.
Albissaty Salhe Alazam, one of the leaders of the "Ca suffit" (That's Enough) protest movement, was detained by police in the capital N'Djamena after being summoned for questioning, a spokesperson for the movement said.
"This state of affairs confirms the government's desire to snuff out democratic values in Chad," Bertrand Sohhoh Ngandjel told a press conference, held with the Chadian trade union confederation and another rights coalition named "Trop c'est trop" (Enough is Enough).
The groups vowed to push ahead with a "peaceful march for a democratic transition of power" in N'Djamena on Tuesday, despite it being banned, and warned the security forces against "any repression of unarmed demonstrators".
Demonstrations have been banned across the desert state of 13 million since opponents of Deby's quest to win a fifth term in elections on Sunday took to the streets in February.
Four protest leaders have been held for two weeks on charges of attempting to disturb the peace for urging anti-government demonstrations.
To protest their arrests civil society representatives last week pulled out of several state institutions, including the electoral commission.
Anger at the government was already running high following the gang rape in February of a young woman by the sons of several leading officials who posted images of her on Facebook, naked and crying. The video triggered nationwide student protests.
The security forces cracked down on the demonstrations, killing two youths.
Deby, an ex-armed forces chief who seized power in 1990 after toppling his former rival Hissene Habre, faces 13 challengers in the first round of the presidential election on April 10.