Chad’s President Idriss Deby, an ally of Western nations in the fight against Islamist militants, is poised to extend his three-decade rule in Sunday’s election despite mounting signs of popular discontent with his leadership.
“Of course we are going to win,” Deby told supporters at a campaign event. “I know in advance that I will win, as I have done for the last 30 years.”
Opposition leaders have called on their supporters to boycott the polls and make the country “ungovernable” after Deby’s decision to seek a sixth term led to protests and clashes with security forces.
Deby, 68, is one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders, having seized power in 1990 in an armed rebellion. He pushed through a new constitution in 2018 that could allow him to stay in power until 2033 – even as it re-instated term limits.
Deby, who took the title of “Marshal” last year, will face six candidates after the supreme court barred seven others. The runner-up in the last election in 2016, Saleh Kebzabo, and Ngarledji Yorongar, another prominent opposition leader, withdrew from the race to protest Deby’s candidacy.
Chad has one of the region’s most capable armies, which it has deployed to hot spots in neighbouring countries to battle Boko Haram and other Islamist groups.