France – World – Chad: junta leader Mahamat Déby elected president, his Prime Minister protests

The transitional president of Chad, and candidate for the presidential election, Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, votes for this election, in N’Djamena, May 6, 2024


Mr. Déby, 40 years old, collected 61.03% of the votes, according to the provisional official results of the electoral commission he had appointed, against 18.53% for Mr. Masra, also 40 years old. The participation rate officially stood at 75.89%. These counts must still be validated by the Constitutional Council, which was also appointed by the head of the junta.

Shortly after the announcement, soldiers fired small arms into the air in N’Djamena in the neighborhood where Mr. Masra’s party is based, out of joy but also clearly to dissuade people from gathering, reports said. AFP journalists. Some residents ran to hide in their homes and the streets were quickly deserted.

It was the opposite near the Presidential Palace, many Déby supporters celebrated his victory by shouting and singing and honking in their cars, some of which were covered with the Chadian flag. Soldiers but also ordinary people showed their joy with bursts of Kalashnikovs into the air. At least two teenagers were injured by falling bullets, an AFP journalist testified.

Prime Minister and presidential candidate, Succès Masra, at his residence in N’Djamena, May 8, 2024 in Chad AFP PHOTO / Issouf SANOGO

Mr. Masra had claimed victory before the proclamation of the official results in a long speech on Facebook where he accused the Déby camp in advance of having rigged the results to announce the general’s victory.

Invoking the compilation of ballot counts by his own supporters, he called on Chadians to “not let victory be stolen from them” and to “prove it” by “mobilizing peacefully, but firmly.”

“I am now the elected president of all Chadians”, declared Mr. Déby in a very brief televised speech in a monotone tone, promising to implement his “commitments”.

This election was to mark the end of a three-year military transition and many observers considered it a foregone conclusion in favor of the general, proclaimed leader on April 20, 2021 to replace his father Idriss Déby Itno who had just been killed by rebels on their way to the front, after having ruled with an iron fist, for 30 years, this vast Sahelian country, one of the poorest in the world.

The fiercest slayer of the “Déby dynasty” at the time, Succès Masra, had finally rallied to the junta and the general had named him Prime Minister four months before the election.

The rest of the opposition, muzzled and violently repressed, sometimes in bloodshed, had accused him of being a “traitor” and of being a presidential candidate to “give a democratic and pluralist veneer” to an election played out of advance for Déby.

But the economist Masra surprised everyone by gathering considerable crowds during his campaign, to the point of becoming emboldened and saying he was capable of winning, if not of pushing Mr. Déby to a second round on June 22.

If Masra’s supporters protest against his election in the streets, this could open the way to deadly violence, with opposition demonstrations being systematically repressed in this country marked, since its independence from France in 1960, by military coups. State, authoritarian regimes and the regular assaults of a multitude of rebellions.

– Acknowledged by the international community –

Counting of ballots for the presidential election, May 6, 2024 in N’Djamena, Chad AFP PHOTO / Issouf SANOGO

Mahamat Déby was dubbed upon his installation by the army in 2021 by an international community – France in the lead – quick to condemn the putschists elsewhere in Africa. Paris still maintains around a thousand soldiers in Chad, considered a pillar of the fight against jihadists in the Sahel, after French soldiers were expelled from Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.

Eight other candidates shared the crumbs of the votes, with the exception of former Prime Minister Albert Pahimi Padacké, who officially collected 16.91% of the votes.

Three years after taking power outside of any constitutional process, General Déby legitimized his presidency at the ballot box. Many observers predicted that it would be a formality, as for his father, officially elected and re-elected comfortably six times after his 1990 coup.

– “Neither credible nor free” –

Prime Minister and presidential candidate, Succès Masra, speaks to the media at his residence in N'Djamena, May 8, 2024 in Chad
Prime Minister and presidential candidate, Succès Masra, speaks to the media at his residence in N’Djamena, May 8, 2024 in Chad AFP PHOTO / Issouf SANOGO

In tune with the rest of the opposition which called for a boycott of the vote, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) was concerned on May 3 about an “election which seems neither credible, nor free, nor democratic.” “in a deleterious context marked by (…) the multiplication of human rights violations”.

On Wednesday, Mr. Masra’s Les Transformateurs party denounced “serious threats” against its leader and his supporters as well as “violence and arbitrary arrests” targeting the latter since the election.



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