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Chad court bars key Déby opponents from May 6 presidential vote

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Authorities in Chad said on Sunday they had barred 10 candidates, including two fierce opponents of the military regime, from standing in the presidential election on May 6.

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The constitutional court said the candidates’ applications – namely those of outspoken opponents Nassour Ibrahim Neguy Koursami and Rakhis Ahmat Saleh – had been rejected because they included “irregularities”.

Ten other candidates remain in the race – most prominently the current junta leader Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno and his prime minister Succes Masra.

General Déby Itno was proclaimed president by a junta of 15 generals in 2021 following the death of his father Idriss Déby Itno, who had ruled the Sahel country with an iron fist for more than three decades.

The new president promised to hand power back to a civilian government within 18 months and told the African Union he would not stand for election as president.

But he then extended the transition period by two more years and on March 2 officially announced he would run for the top office.

Succes Masra, a former opposition leader, signed a reconciliation deal with the junta leader earlier this year.

The opposition says his candidacy is a ploy to give a veneer of pluralism to an election that Déby Itno is certain to win, since his main rivals are dead or in exile.

‘Masquerade’

“Those in power don’t want to face a credible opposition in the polls,” Koursami, a candidate for the GCAP, one of the main opposition platforms in Chad, told AFP.

He said only the names of “candidates who will accompany the head of the junta during the presidential election” had been approved.

The constitutional council also announced it was opening a preliminary investigation for alleged forgery and use of forged documents against Koursami over suspicions with papers in support of his candidacy.

“All the arguments used do not hold up,” Rakhis Ahmat Saleh, representing the Party for Democratic Renewal in Chad, said.

He accused the constitutional body of “manoeuvres” to rule out candidates “without good reason”.

Constitutional expert Ahmat Mahamat Hassan said that, effectively, there would not be an election.

“In reality, it’s about choosing candidates who accompany the junta chief for the confirmation of maintaining the dynasty in power through” Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno, he told AFP.

A member of the constitutional council registry, speaking under anonymity, told AFP that the body had strictly applied provisions of the constitution and electoral code.

Wakit Tamma, another of the main opposition platforms in Chad, on Saturday called for a boycott of the presidential vote, denouncing it as a “masquerade” aimed at upholding a “dynastic dictatorship”.

The barring of the opposition candidates comes less than a month after general Déby’s main rival Yaya Dillo Djerou was shot dead in an army assault on his PSF party headquarters.

The PSF said he had been assassinated at point-blank range to prevent his standing against the general, his cousin. The government denied the accusation.

(AFP)

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