Chad’s Deby eyes sixth presidential term

Facing mounting signs of common dissatisfaction with his leadership, Chad’s President Idriss Deby, a Western ally in the war against Islamist militants, is set to expand his three-decade rule in Sunday’s election.

Since Deby’s decision to seek a sixth term sparked demonstrations and clashes with security forces, opposition leaders have urged their supporters to boycott the elections and make the country “ungovernable.” 

Deby, 68, is Africa’s longest-serving monarch, having taken power in an armed revolt in 1990. In 2018, he pushed through a new constitution that, while restoring term limits, could allow him to remain in power until 2033.

Deby, who was named “Marshal” last year, would face six opponents after the supreme court disqualified seven others. Saleh Kebzabo, the runner-up in the 2016 election, and Ngarledji Yorongar, another popular opposition leader, both dropped out of the race to protest Deby’s candidacy.

Deby told supporters at a campaign event on Monday. “Of course we are going to win, I know in advance that I will win, as I have done for the last 30 years.”

Chad has one of the most capable armies in the country, which it has sent to hotspots in neighboring countries to fight Boko Haram and other terrorist groups. 

However, insurgents in the north continue to challenge the government on a regular basis. In 2019, fighter jets from France’s former colonial ruler interfered after a heavily armed insurgent convoy crossed the border from southern Libya. 

Deby has been chastised by opposition leaders for his handling of Chad’s oil wealth. Low crude prices have slashed government revenues in recent years, forcing service cuts that have resulted in public sector strikes.

They have also increased debt levels. On Tuesday, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said that Chad’s creditors will meet in the coming week to discuss the country’s debt relief offer.

Educator, writer and legal researcher at Alafarika for Studies and Consultancy.

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