May 24, 2024

Brighton Journal

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Presidential elections in Chad: Voting is about to end military rule

Presidential elections in Chad: Voting is about to end military rule

Image source, Michel Mfundo/BBC

Comment on the photo, Voting started an hour late in some areas

  • author, Paul Njie in N’Djamena, monitored by BBC
  • Role, BBC News

Chad is set to become the first African country led by the current military junta to transition to democratic rule with presidential elections taking place on Monday.

It will end a three-year transition period imposed after the sudden death of long-serving leader Idriss Déby Itno while fighting the rebels.

But since his son and successor, General Mohamed Déby, is one of the favorites to win, there are some doubts about whether this will bring about change.

Prime Minister Sosis Masra is among his nine rivals and is seen as his biggest rival.

The start of voting witnessed delays, as polling stations opened an hour later than scheduled in some areas.

President Deby began this process by casting his vote in the capital, N’Djamena.

He said he was proud to fulfill his promise to respect the deadline for holding “elections that will signal a return to constitutional order.”

He added: “It is up to the Chadian people to vote massively and choose their president.”

“We will vote. This is our duty… even if it takes time,” said one voter, who stood in a long line waiting to cast his vote.

But some argued that the decision to ban some people was politically motivated.

Another potential dissident, Yaya Dilou, was killed by security forces in February, while allegedly leading an attack on the National Security Agency in the capital, N’Djamena.

Activists called for a boycott of the elections, which they described as a ploy to give a tinge of democratic legitimacy to the Deby family.

Many remain in exile after a deadly crackdown on dissidents following protests in October 2022.

However, Chad’s election represents a milestone for West and Central African countries that have fallen under military rule since the start of the wave of coups in 2020.

It may serve as a model for military juntas seeking to maintain their political influence after coming to power for the first time illegally.

The oil-exporting country, with a population of nearly 18 million, has not witnessed a free and fair transition of power since its independence from France in 1960.

Idriss Déby overthrew Hissene Habré in 1990 and remained in office for the next three decades until his death on the battlefield in April 2021 at the age of 68.

His son, now 40, took power in what opponents described as a constitutional coup and initially pledged to remain as interim leader for only 18 months, a period that was later extended. He also said he would not run for president.

General Déby has tried to dispel fears that he is part of a ruling dynasty.

Comment on the photo, Candidate posters, including that of Najah Masra (center) and Mohamed Deby (right) can be seen in the capital

Mr. Massra, also 40, was appointed Prime Minister by General Deby in January after reaching an agreement to repair political divisions caused by the October 2022 protests.

Some accused the economist of betraying the opposition, but he denied rumors of a secret post-election power-sharing agreement with General Déby.

He urged Chadians to vote for him to end six decades of “obscurity” and “darkness.”

People are in desperate need of change in Chad.

But when it comes to voting, there is a mixture of hope and despair.

Hopefully this vote, whoever wins, will launch a new era of youthful leadership in the country, but despairingly as over the past three decades, life is becoming more difficult for many in the country.

The results are expected to be announced by May 21, but a second round could be held in June if no candidate receives more than 50% of the votes in the first round.

More BBC stories about Chad:

Image source, Getty Images/BBC