Chad President: Elections will take place in first half of 2019

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President Idriss Deby Itno at the presidential palace in N'Djamena [File - Photo]

Repeatedly postponed legislative and local elections in Chad will finally take place in the first half of 2019.

FILE PHOTO: Chad’s President Idriss Deby, 2018. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo

President Idriss Deby, who has ruled the country since 1990,  made the announcement during his New Year’s address.

Should elections take place, they would be the poor but oil-rich state’s first legislative elections since 2011. The vote had originally been scheduled for 2015, but due to delays, the sitting parliament’s mandate was extended by a constitutional law.

However, opposition leader Saleh Kebzabo said it was not up to the president to decide the date of the vote — that was the responsibility of the national election commission (CENI).

“Idriss Deby has also not spoken about constantly-violated freedoms or of a desire to improve electoral transparency,” Kebzabo told AFP.

The president has requested 30 billion CFA francs (45.7 million euros, $52 million) from the international community to help pay for the elections.

During a visit to Chad on December 23, French President Emmanuel Macron promised funds to help the vote go ahead.

The support of Chad’s allies is “indispensable in this new electoral process, which requires significant financial and logistical resources,” Deby said in his address.

He is hoping for an end to the country’s financial crisis, which was caused mainly by the slide in the price of crude oil in 2014-2015.

“The coming year will be pivotal in the battle to structurally transform our economy,” Deby added.

Despite its oil resources, the country’s population is among the poorest in the world.