Chad’s junta leader orders military crackdown after opposition calls for election boycott

YAOUNDE, CAMEROON — In response to growing campaign violence, Chad’s transitional president, General Mahamat Idriss Deby, has ordered his military to arrest angry civilians and make sure peace reigns in the run-up to the May 6 presidential election and afterwards. Opposition and civil society groups, which have called for a boycott of the vote, which they dismiss as a sham, acknowledge that some civilians have attacked members of the Deby’s campaign team.

Chad’s transitional president, General Mahamat Idriss Deby, says he will not allow anyone to disrupt the central African country’s May 6 presidential election. Deby is running as the candidate of the Patriotic Salvation Movement, or MPS, Chad’s former ruling party, against nine challengers.

He told state TV on Wednesday that government troops have been quelling confrontations between his supporters and opposition followers in towns and villages across the country since the presidential campaign was launched on April 14.

Deby said that when he took power three years ago, he vowed to maintain peace and order until he hands power to a democratically elected president. He said he has asked Chad’s military to be on alert because he will not allow people he describes as inexperienced and power-hungry to create chaos in Chad. He said the military will ensure that peace reigns in Chad before, during and after the May 6 vote.

Chad’s transitional government claims that some opposition leaders began calling for violence after about 1,000 civil society groups and 200 opposition parties publicly declared their support for Deby. He said that among those promoting violence are opposition figures whom Chad’s Constitutional Council barred from running for president.

Among those barred from running was Djimet Clemen Bagaou, a former army colonel who is president of the Democratic Party of Chadian People or PDPT. The Constitutional Council said the birth certificate that Bagaou presented in registering as a candidate had irregularities but did not explain further.

Bagaou said some of his supporters, including members of civil society groups, have had daily confrontations with followers of Deby and troops in several towns and villages.

Bagaou claims Deby asked Chad’s military to attack his supporters and civil society members who have called for a boycott of the May 6 vote. He dismissed the election as fake, accusing Deby of doing everything possible to maintain his family’s grip on power, including harassing and arresting civilians who do not support his plans. Bagaou said scores of opposition and civil society members are ready to prevent the election from taking place.

Bagaou spoke via a messaging app from Chad’s capital N’djamena. He did not say how his supporters and civil society groups plan to stop the election from happening.

Chad’s military government insists that government troops deployed to maintain peace are not harassing civilians, as the opposition and civil society groups claim.

Still, it acknowledges that some arrests have been made in what officials say is part of an effort to assure a peaceful election.

Two other fierce opponents of military rule who were barred by the Constitutional Council from running for president are Nassour Ibrahim Neguy Koursami and Rakhis Ahmat Saleh. They accuse Deby of using government troops to crack down on his opponents in a bid to remain in power after Chad’s transitional period ends in August. They claim he is also using state resources, including government vehicles and officials, for his election campaign.

Yaya Dillo Djerou, who was the leader of the opposition Socialist Party Without Borders and a cousin of Deby, was killed in March in the capital N’Djamena by troops who surrounded the party’s headquarters. 

Opposition supporters say Dillo may have been killed because he was planning to challenge the general at the polls. Chad’s government denies the accusation, saying there was an exchange of gunfire when Dillo resisted his arrest.

While some opposition members are calling for an election boycott, Deby’s challengers say they are counting on Chad’s election commission, the National Agency for Elections Management, or ANGE, to ensure a free, transparent and credible vote.

Ahmed Bartchiret is ANGE’s president.

He said the May 6 presidential election is a barometer of Chad’s young democracy and that his agency must prove to the world that it respects people’s democratic choices. Bartchiret said all the candidates in the presidential race should know that ANGE is committed to having a fair and transparent election.  

Deby headed a military junta that seized power in Chad immediately after his father, Mahamat Idriss Deby, who had ruled the country for 30 years, was killed by rebels. 

The younger Deby initially promised an 18-month transitional period, but later appointed himself as the head of a transitional government. 

The May 6 presidential election is meant to be part of Chad’s transition back to democracy.  Provisional results are expected on July 7.

Deby said he will respect the voting results and hand over power if he is defeated. 

your ad here

leave a reply: