Chad heads to the polls as incumbent Idriss Deby seeks sixth term

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

Over seven million registered voters in Chad head to the polls this Sunday as President Idriss Deby, 68, seeks a sixth consecutive term.

Deby and his party, the Patriotic Salvation Movement (MPS), have dominated Chadian politics since ascending to power in December 1990.

A new constitution, promulgated in 2018, allowed him to run for two additional six-year terms back-to-back after the end of his tenure this year.

The 7.3 million registered voters in the Central African country will choose among 7 candidates, according to the country’s independent electoral commission (CENI).

55-year-old former Prime Minister Albert Pahimi Padacke, and Felix Nialbe Romadoumngar, 64, who is officially the “leader of the opposition” as his URD party has eight seats in the National Assembly are among those challenging the incumbent president. .

The campaigning season was marred by a crackdown on protesters and opposition parties, with some opposition figures calling for a boycott.

“Of course we are going to win, I know in advance that I will win, as I have done for the last 30 years,” Deby told supporters during a campaign event last week.

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.

(With input from agencies)