Chad excludes its military rulers' main opponents from presidential vote

Chad ©  Carol Valade/RFI
© Carol Valade/RFI

Authorities in Chad said on Sunday they had barred 10 candidates, including three leading opponents of the ruling junta, from standing in the presidential election on 6 May. The vote is supposed to mark a return to democratic rule three years after military leaders seized power, but the opposition says it's a sham.

The constitutional court said the applications of outspoken opponents Nassour Ibrahim Neguy Koursami, Rakhis Ahmat Saleh and Ahmat Hassaballah Soubiane, as well as seven others, had been rejected because of "irregularities".

The court attributed the decision to missing or inconsistent documents, declaring that Koursami's file listed several different places of birth.

Ten other candidates remain in the running, most prominently the current leader Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno and his prime minister Succes Masra. Former prime minister Albert Pahimi Padacke also saw his candidacy approved.  

Deby Itno was proclaimed interim president by military generals in 2021 following the death of his father Idriss Deby Itno, who had ruled the country for more than three decades.

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

Call for boycott

The opposition says Masra's candidacy is a ploy to make the race appear open – when in fact Deby Itno is almost certain to win, since his main rivals are dead or in exile.

Even before the court announced its decision, opposition and civil society coalition Wakit Tama ("It's time") urged voters to boycott the election, which they called a "charade".

"If you boycott, [Deby Itno] will be elected. If you don't boycott, he'll still be elected. So does a boycott matter?" spokesperson Soumaine Adoum said at a press conference on Sunday morning.

"Yes, because refusing to vote makes a stand. Because it will call the vote's legitimacy into question."

Opposition leader shot

The election has already been marred by the violent death of a prominent opposition leader, Yaya Dillo.

Dillo, who was widely expected to challenge Deby Itno for the presidency, was killed last month when soldiers stormed his party's headquarters in the capital, N'Djamena.

The authorities claim they were attempting to arrest a member of Dillo's party for an alleged attack on the security agency when his supporters open fire, leading to Dillo's death in a shoot-out.

But his supporters say that he was executed at point-blank range. They claim that photographs of his corpse show a single shot to the head.

Human Rights Watch said Dillo's death raised serious concerns.

"The circumstances of Yaya Dillo's killing are unclear, but his violent death highlights the dangers facing opposition politicians in Chad, particularly as elections approach," said Lewis Mudge, the watchdog's Central Africa director, in a statement

(with newswires)

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