A Presidential Poll in Chad is Expected to end Military rule

In certain places, voting began an hour later than scheduled.

With Monday’s presidential election, Chad is poised to become the first of Africa’s current junta-led republics to transition to democracy.

After long-serving leader Idriss Déby Itno unexpectedly died while battling rebels, a three-year transition was imposed. This transition will come to a conclusion.

Though there is considerable doubt that this will lead to change, Gen Mahamat Déby, his son and heir, is one among the favourites to win.

Among his nine opponents is Prime Minister Succès Masra, who is regarded as his main contender.

There were delays in the commencement of voting; in several places, polls opened an hour later than planned.

In N’Djamena, the capital, President Déby cast his ballot to begin the process.

He expressed his pride at having kept his word to hold “elections that will signal a return to constitutional order” before the deadline.

“The people of Chad must cast their votes in large numbers and elect their president,” he continued.

As he cast his ballot, Mr. Masra wore a blue boubou, or traditional garment, according to the AFP news agency.

“All those who have shown they want massive change must go and vote in massive numbers, peacefully,” he stated following the vote.

“We’re going to cast our votes. While standing in a huge queue to cast his ballot, one voter told the BBC, “It’s our duty… even if it takes time.”

The constitutional council disqualified ten further candidates for politics, including two well-known individuals, Nassour Ibrahim Neguy Koursami and Rakhis Ahmat Saleh, citing “irregularities.” Mr. Koursami, for instance, was charged with forgery.

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However, others contend that the choice to exclude specific individuals was made for political reasons.

Yaya Dillo, another possible rival, was shot and killed by security personnel in February when he was purportedly organising an assault on the National Security Agency in the nation’s capital, N’Djamena.

A boycott of the election has been demanded by activists, who see it as a ruse to give the Déby dynasty a veneer of democratic legitimacy.

Many remain in exile as a result of a lethal crackdown on opponents that happened after protests in October 2022.

However, for the nations of West and Central Africa that have been ruled by the military since a wave of coups started in 2020, Chad’s election represents a significant turning point.

It could be used as a model by juntas that initially came to power illegally and want to hold onto their political control.

Since gaining independence from France in 1960, the oil-exporting nation of about 18 million people has not had a free and fair transition of power.

After toppling Hissène Habré in 1990, Idriss Déby ruled for the next thirty years, until his death on the battlefield in April 2021 at the age of 68.

In what opponents referred to as a constitutional coup, his 40-year-old son assumed power. He first promised to serve as interim leader for just 18 months, but that term was eventually extended. In addition, he declared he would not seek the presidency.

Gen. Déby has made an effort to downplay rumours that he comes from a family of royalty.

“After I complete my five-year term, if elected, the people will judge me,” the candidate stated. Regarding a dynasty, he told the France 24 TV channel, “Our constitution is very clear – a candidate cannot serve more than two successive terms.”

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The 40-year-old Mr. Masra was appointed prime minister by Gen. Déby in January following the brokering of an agreement to heal political rifts resulting from the protests in October 2022.

Although the economist has denied reports of a covert power-sharing arrangement with Gen Déby after the election, he has been accused by others of betraying the opposition.

In an effort to put an end to 60 years of “obscurity” and “darkness,” he has urged Chadians to vote for him.

In Chad, people are incredibly eager for change.

However, there is a combination of hope and sadness regarding the vote.

Though dejected since many people’s lives have gotten more difficult in the last three decades, there is hope that the winner of this poll could usher in a new period of youthful leadership in the nation.

Results are anticipated by May 21st, however if no contender receives more than 50% of the vote in the first round, there may be a second round in June.

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