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Faith  Nyasuguta 

Chadians have headed to the polls today (Monday), marking a pivotal moment in the country’s political landscape three years after the military leader seized power following the demise of his long-ruling father, Idriss Deby. This presidential election, the first in Africa’s Sahel region since a wave of coups, holds significant implications for the nation’s future trajectory.

Mahamat Idriss Deby, who assumed power after the tragic events of April 2021, is widely perceived as the frontrunner in the election. However, his chief opponent has been garnering unexpectedly large crowds during the campaign period. Deby has campaigned on promises to bolster security, enhance the rule of law, and boost electricity production, seeking to address pressing issues facing the country.

The electoral process unfolds against the backdrop of a temporary withdrawal of U.S. troops from Chad, an essential Western ally in a region plagued by instability and jihadist threats. Chad’s strategic importance has made it a focal point for international powers, with Russia also vying for influence in the region.

Polling stations opened at 7 a.m. and close at 5 p.m., with approximately 8.5 million registered voters eligible to cast their ballots. Early voting commenced on Sunday, with soldiers among the first to participate in the electoral process.

Provisional election results are expected by May 21, followed by final results by June 5. In the event that no candidate secures more than 50% of the votes, a runoff election will be held on June 22, further shaping the country’s political trajectory.

Chad’s interim President Mahamat Idriss Deby /Sputnik/

Despite concerns raised by some opposition members and civil society groups regarding potential vote-rigging, the electoral process has generated significant interest and engagement among the Chadian populace. However, the specter of violence looms over the election, with fears of unrest stemming from contentious political dynamics.

Opposition candidate Succes Masra, along with former prime minister Albert Pahimi Padacke and seven other contenders, presents a formidable challenge to Deby’s candidacy. The tragic assassination of opposition politician Yaya Dillo further emphasizes the high stakes of the election and the complex political terrain in Chad.

While Deby enjoys the backing of France, Chad’s former colonial power and longtime ally, the country’s ties with Western powers, particularly the United States, have encountered turbulence in the lead-up to the election. The temporary withdrawal of U.S. troops indicates the ongoing reassessments of security operations in the region.

Amid these challenges and uncertainties, Chadians remain hopeful for a peaceful and transparent electoral process that reflects their aspirations for change and progress. As citizens exercise their democratic rights, the election’s outcome will influence Chad’s course and its position within the wider Sahel region.


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Faith Nyasuguta

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