Many troop out to vote as Chad elects president, 3 years after

Voting has begun in Chad’s presidential election, a major step leading to the end of the country’s three-year transition from military to civilian government.

The polls on Monday were characterized by delays, commencing one hour behind schedule in some areas.

Transitional President Mahamat Déby started the exercise by casting his ballot in the capital, N’Djamena.

He said he was proud to have fulfilled his promise to respect the deadline for “elections that will signal a return to constitutional order.”

“It’s up to the Chadian people to vote massively and choose their president,” he added.

“We will vote, it’s our duty… even if it takes time,” said a voter who stood in a long queue waiting for his turn to cast his ballot.

Eight million voters are electing the new president from among 10 candidates, including the military leader Déby and the prime minister, Succès Masra.

The preliminary results are expected by 21 May, but a second round could be held in June if there’s no clear winner in the first round of the polls.

Mahamat Idriss Déby has been serving as transitional president since taking power after his father Idriss Déby, who ruled Chad for 30 years, was killed in battle in April 2021.

Déby has promised to bolster security, strengthen the rule of law and increase electricity production. But his chief opponent has been drawing larger-than-expected crowds on the campaign trail.

The vote coincides with a temporary withdrawal of US troops from Chad, an important Western ally in a region of West and Central Africa courted by Russia and wracked by jihadism.

Monday’s vote pits Déby against Masra, previously a political opponent who fled into exile in 2022 but was allowed back a year later.

Also running are former prime minister Albert Pahimi Padacké and seven other candidates.

Heritage Times HT