Africa

Chad’s Democratic Dawn: Navigating Transition and Controversy in the Presidential Election

What you need to know more about

  • The election results, slated for release by May 21, may pave the way for a new chapter in Chad’s political landscape, with a potential runoff in June should no candidate secure a majority in the initial round.
  • Calls for election boycotts resonate among activists, denouncing what they perceive as a maneuver to confer democratic legitimacy upon the Deby dynasty, particularly in the wake of a violent crackdown on dissent in 2022.

Chad stands on the cusp of a historic shift as it prepares for Monday’s presidential election, marking a significant step towards democratic governance in Africa’s current junta-led nations.

The impending transition follows a three-year interim period following the sudden demise of long-serving leader Idriss Deby Itno during clashes with rebels. As his son, Gen Mahamat Déby, vies for the presidency, questions linger regarding the extent of forthcoming change.

Prime Minister Succès Masra emerges as his primary contender among nine challengers, embodying a potential alternative to the incumbent.

However, controversy surrounds the exclusion of several candidates, such as Nassour Ibrahim Neguy Koursami and Rakhis Ahmat Saleh, due to alleged irregularities, including forgery accusations against Mr. Koursami.

Critics argue that these exclusions bear political motivations, further compounded by the fatal encounter of prospective candidate Yaya Dillo with security forces in February.

Calls for election boycotts resonate among activists, denouncing what they perceive as a maneuver to confer democratic legitimacy upon the Deby dynasty, particularly in the wake of a violent crackdown on dissent in 2022.

Nonetheless, Chad’s electoral process symbolizes a watershed moment for West and Central African nations grappling with military rule since the spate of coups in 2020, potentially serving as a blueprint for transitioning juntas.

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Despite being an oil-exporting nation with a population of nearly 18 million, Chad has not witnessed a fair transfer of power since gaining independence from France in 1960. Idriss Déby’s ascent to power in 1990, succeeding Hissène Habré, perpetuated a dynastic grip on governance until his battlefield demise in 2021, succeeded by his son.

Gen Déby, at 40 years old, has sought to assuage concerns about dynastic rule, pledging adherence to constitutional limits on presidential terms.

Prime Minister Masra, also 40, ascended to his position through a political accord brokered after the tumultuous events of October 2022, though allegations of betraying the opposition linger. He refutes claims of clandestine power-sharing arrangements and appeals to Chadians for a mandate to usher in an era of illumination after decades of obscurity.

Chad’s populace harbors a mix of hope and despondency as they anticipate the election, yearning for change amid the harsh realities of daily life exacerbated over the past three decades.

The election results, slated for release by May 21, may pave the way for a new chapter in Chad’s political landscape, with a potential runoff in June should no candidate secure a majority in the initial round.

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