Chad opposition protests military involvement in May 6 presidential polls

YAOUNDE, CAMEROON — Angry youths in Chad are pulling down campaign posters of transitional President General Mahamat Idriss Deby in protest of what they call his attempt to seize power. Deby’s main challengers in the May 6 election, including former opposition leader and current Prime Minister Succes Masra, say several hundred of their supporters have been arrested. Some among the disgruntled opposition are calling for an election boycott.

Several hundred civilians shout as they pull down campaign posters of Chad’s transitional president, General Mahamat Idriss Deby.

The posters have come down in several towns, including Chad’s capital, N’djamena, and Moundou, the central African nation’s second-most-populated city.

In the audio extracted from videos circulating on social media, especially Facebook and WhatsApp, the civilians say they need a leadership change in Chad and an end to what they call a Deby dynasty.

Deby took power as a military ruler in April 2021 after his father, Idriss Deby Itno, who had ruled the country for 30 years, was killed by rebels.

Chad’s opposition and civil society have always condemned what they call Deby’s seizure of power, asking him to hand power to civilians.

The younger Deby told Chad state TV this week that campaigning for Chad’s May 6 polls has faced major hitches, including attacks on his campaign officials and the pulling down of his posters.

Deby says he has asked government troops, the guarantors of peace and security, to restore order and end growing hate speech and preelection violence. He says when he took power three years ago, he vowed to maintain Chad as a peaceful country before handing it to constitutional order after the May 6 presidential polls.

Deby did not accuse his challenges of ordering or allowing their supporters to pull down his campaign posters. But he said civilians who are planning to disturb the elections have been arrested.

Deby’s main election rivals, Prime Minister Masra and Pahimi Padacke Albert, who also served as Chad’s prime minister under Deby from April 2021 to October 2022, say hundreds of their supporters are in jail illegally.

Meanwhile, opposition candidates also accuse Deby of ordering government troops to crack down on his challengers’ campaign caravans.

Masra says Deby wants to crack down on his rivals to maintain his grip on power. He spoke to VOA via a messaging app from N’djamena Friday.

Masra says he and his supporters will not be intimidated into stopping the fight for the rule of democracy in Chad. He says he is committed to making sure that all Chadians have access to electricity, water and security, which are basic needs Deby and his father have not been able to give civilians for more than three decades. And yet, he says, the Deby family wants to stay in power eternally.

Some opposition and civil society groups have intensified their campaign for a total boycott of the election. They assert that Deby controls Chad’s election commission, the National Agency for Elections Management, or ANGE.

Djimet Clemen Bagaou, president of the Democratic Party of Chadian People says ANGE will declare Deby the winner, so there is no point to the elections.

ANGE rejects that line of thinking, saying the country’s more than 8 million registered voters should count on its independence to ensure a free, transparent and credible vote. It is urging Chadians to come out to the polls.

Deby says he will respect the verdict of the ballot and hand over power if defeated.


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