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Junta leader Mahamat Déby elected president in Chad, his prime minister protests

Photo: Issouf Sanogo Agence France-Presse General Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno, Chadian presidential candidate, voted on May 6 at a polling station in N’Djamena.

Léa Nkamleun Fosso – Agence France-Presse and Ali Abba Kaya – Agence France-Presse in N’Djamena

Posted at 8:53 p.m.

  • Africa

General Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno was declared the winner of the presidential election on Thursday, three years after taking power at the head of a military junta, but his defeated prime minister, Succès Masra, contests this victory.

M. Déby, 40, received 61.03% of the vote, according to provisional official results from the electoral commission he appointed, compared to 18.53% for Mr. Masra, also 40. Voter turnout was officially 75.89%. These counts must still be validated by the Constitutional Council, which was also appointed by the head of the junta.

Shots in the air

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

Junta leader Mahamat Déby elected president in Chad, his prime minister protests

Photo: Joris Bolomey Agence France-Presse Supporters of general and head of the Chadian junta, Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno, fire shots into the air to celebrate his victory in the presidential election on Thursday in the capital N'Djamena.

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.

Mr. Masra had claimed victory before the official results were announced 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.

“Stolen” victory

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

“I am now the elected president of all Chadians”, stated 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, among the poorest in the world.

The fiercest slayer of “the Déby dynasty” then, 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 in 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 pushing Mr. Déby to a second round on June 22.

If Masra supporters protest Déby's election in the streets, it could open the way to deadly violence, with opposition demonstrations systematically repressed in this country marked, since its independence from France in 1960, by coups d'état, authoritarian regimes and the regular attacks of a multitude of rebellions.

Anointed by the international community

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 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 vote, with the exception of former Prime Minister Albert Pahimi Padacké, who officially received 16.91% of the vote.

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

“Neither credible nor free”

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 that 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.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116