Chad holds presidential election as Deby vies to extend rule


Chad’s incumbent president Idriss Deby Itno arrives to cast his vote at a polling station in N’djamena for the presidential election on April 10, 2016. A total of 13 candidates are challenging Chad’s President Idriss Deby for election, although they have little hope of victory over a leader who has ruled for 26 years. ISSOUF SANOGO / AFP

Chad is voting in a presidential election on Sunday at which incumbent Idriss Deby is running for a fifth term in office.

“I call on Chadians to vote in calm and serenity. Our country is starting from a long way back but the future looks bright. I ask all politicians to respect the verdict of the ballot box,” Deby told journalists as he voted.

Witnesses said thousands of voters cast their ballots at polling stations in the capital in the first election the central African country has held using biometric data.

“We came to vote for the president to guarantee peace in our country. Around us in the neighbouring countries there are too many problems,” said civil servant Fatima Zara as she lined up to vote.

The president, who led a rebellion to power in 1990, is favourite to defeat 13 challengers including opposition leader Saleh Kebzabo who argues that Chad needs change.

Chad’s constitution allows Deby to run but he has pledged to reintroduce term limits which were abolished by his government in 2004.
Deby’s political advantages after decades in power include effective control of state media as well as the institutions of state and local administrations.

The economy of the landlocked country relies largely on oil production and a slump in global prices has hit government revenue.

One challenge facing the next government will be to diversify an economy in which many live in poverty.

“I got up early to come and vote because we want change,” said Mathieu Madjitulngar, an unemployed man queuing at a polling station in a suburb of the capital.

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