Chad junta's main opponents barred from presidential vote

AFP , Sunday 24 Mar 2024

Authorities in Chad said on Sunday they had barred 10 candidates, including two fierce opponents of the military regime, from standing in the presidential election on May 6.

Chadian opposition figure Nassour Ibrahim Koursami (red tie, centre) submits his candidacy for the upcoming presidential election. AFP


The constitutional court said the candidates' applications, namely those of outspoken opponents Nassour Ibrahim Neguy Koursami and Rakhis Ahmat Saleh, had been rejected because they included "irregularities".

Ten other candidates remain in the race, most prominently the current junta leader Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno and his prime minister Succes Masra, a former opponent whose participation has been denounced by the opposition as a front for plurality.

"It is a candidacy under the pretext that we need other candidates against Deby to say that there is a democratic game," agreed political scientist Kelma Manatouma of the University of N'Djamena.

General Deby Itno was proclaimed president by a junta of 15 generals in 2021 following the death of his father Idriss Deby Itno, who had ruled the Sahel country with an iron fist for more than three decades.

The new president promised to hand power back to a civilian government within 18 months and told the African Union he would not stand for election as president.

But he then extended the transition period by two more years and on March 2 officially announced he would run for the top office.

Masra, a former opposition leader, signed a reconciliation deal with the junta leader earlier this year.

The opposition says his candidacy is a ploy to give a veneer of pluralism to an election that Deby Itno is certain to win since his main rivals are dead or in exile.


"Those in power don't want to face a credible opposition in the polls," Koursami, a candidate for the GCAP, one of the main opposition platforms in Chad, told AFP.

He said only the names of "candidates who will accompany the head of the junta during the presidential election" had been approved.

The constitutional council also announced it was opening a preliminary investigation for alleged forgery and use of forged documents against Koursami over suspicions with papers in support of his candidacy.

"All the arguments used do not hold up," Rakhis Ahmat Saleh, representing the Party for Democratic Renewal in Chad, said.

He accused the constitutional body of "manoeuvres" to rule out candidates "without good reason".

Constitutional expert Ahmat Mahamat Hassan said that, effectively, there would not be an election.

"In reality, it's about choosing candidates who accompany the junta chief for the confirmation of maintaining the dynasty in power through" Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, he told AFP.

A member of the constitutional council registry, speaking under anonymity, told AFP that the body had strictly applied provisions of the constitution and electoral code.

Wakit Tamma, another of the main opposition platforms in Chad, on Saturday called for a boycott of the presidential vote, denouncing it as a "masquerade" aimed at upholding a "dynastic dictatorship".

The barring of the opposition candidates comes less than a month after general Deby's main rival Yaya Dillo Djerou was shot dead in an army assault on his PSF party headquarters.

The PSF said he had been assassinated at point-blank range to prevent his standing against the general, his cousin. The government denied the accusation.

In early March, Human Rights Watch (HRW) called for an independent investigation into the murder of Yaya Dillo, arguing that the army assault "raises serious concerns about the environment for elections scheduled for May".

Masra subsequently promised that his government would hold an international inquiry to determine responsibility for the death of the junta's main opponent.

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