Chad’s president votes to end military rule

Chad is set to become the first African country currently ruled by a military regime to transition to democratic rule with Monday’s presidential vote.

The three-year transition of power imposed after the sudden death of the country’s long-serving leader is coming to an end. Idris Debbie Itono during the fight against the rebel army.

However, his son and successor, Gen, Mahamat Debbie is one of the favorites to win, but there is some skepticism as to whether it will make a difference.

Prime Minister Success Masra is among the nine challengers and is seen as his biggest rival.

The start of voting was delayed in some areas, with voting starting an hour later than scheduled.

President Deby voted and began the exercise in the capital N’Djamena.

He said he was proud to have fulfilled his promise to meet deadlines for “an election that marks a return to constitutional order.”

“It is up to the people of Chad to vote in a big way and choose their president,” he added.

“We will vote. Even if it takes a long time, it is our duty,” said one voter in a long line waiting to vote.

Ten other politicians who wanted to run, including two prominent figures, Nassour Ibrahim Negi Kurusami and Rakis Ahmat Saleh, were excluded by the Constitutional Council on grounds of “irregularity”. Ta. For example, Mr. Kurusami was charged with forgery.

However, some argue that the decision to ban certain people from participating is politically motivated.

Another potential opponent, Yaya Dilo, was killed by security forces in February on suspicion of leading an attack on the National Security Agency in the capital N’Djamena.

Activists are calling for a boycott of the election, saying it is a ploy to give the Debi dynasty a shine to its democratic legitimacy.

Many remain in exile following a deadly crackdown on opposition following the October 2022 protests.

Nevertheless, Chad’s election marks a milestone for the West and Central African nation, which has been under military rule since a spate of coups began in 2020.

This could serve as a template for military regimes seeking to maintain political influence after initially seizing power illegally.

The oil-exporting nation of about 18 million people has not had a free and fair transfer of power since gaining independence from France in 1960.

Idriss Deby overthrew Hissene Habré in 1990 and ruled for the next 30 years, until his death on the battlefield in April 2021 at the age of 68.

His son, now 40, took over in what opponents called a constitutional coup and initially promised to remain interim leader for just 18 months, but that period was later extended. He also said he would not run for president.

General Devi is trying to dispel concerns that he is part of a dynasty.

“If I am elected, I will serve a five-year term, and at the end of my term the people will judge me. When it comes to dynasties, our constitution is very clear. “No candidate may serve more than two consecutive terms,” ​​he told France 24 television channel.

campaign poster

Posters of candidates such as Success Mathra (C) and Mahamat Devi (R) can be seen in the capital. [BBC]

Masra, also 40, was appointed prime minister by General Debi in January after an agreement was brokered to mend political rifts caused by the October 2022 protests.

The economist, who has been accused by some of betraying the opposition, denied rumors of a secret post-election power-sharing agreement with General Deby.

He called on Chadians to vote for him to end 60 years of “obscurity” and “darkness.”

The people of Chad are hungry for change.

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

Whoever wins, we hope this vote will spark a new era for this country’s young leaders, but as life has become much tougher for many people in this country over the past 30 years, I’m in despair.

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.

Other BBC articles about Chad:

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