Chad: after the contested victory of Mahamat Idriss Déby in the presidential election, the capital N’Djamena under close surveillance

A rushed announcement, but an expected result

Chad: after the contested victory of Mahamat Idriss Déby in the presidential election, the capital N’Djamena under close surveillance

A rushed announcement, but an expected result. Thursday, May 9 in the evening, around ten days before the legal deadlines expired and while the Constitutional Court had barely received copies of the minutes from the polling stations, the National Election Management Agency (ANGE ) of Chad proclaimed victory in the first round of the presidential election of Mahamat Idriss Déby, with 61.03% of the votes.

The leader of the transition, brought to power by a group of generals following the death of his father, Idriss Déby, in April 2021, is well ahead of Succès Masra (18.53%), his main opponent, who became prime minister thanks to a political agreement. Coming in third position, former head of government Albert Pahimi Padacké (16.91%) was quick to congratulate the winner.

“Everyone knows that these figures were fabricated,” reacted, annoyed, a senior member of the Transformers, the Masra Success party, who describes these results as a “masquerade” and “witchcraft”. Shortly before the proclamation, the Prime Minister, seeing the vote slipping away from him, tried to take the electoral body by surprise by proclaiming himself the winner: “We won on May 6 [date of the first round] with the vision of a Chad stand up,” he declared during an address to the nation, broadcast live on social networks.

Throughout his campaign, the opponent had called on his activists to control the results coming out of the polls, by taking photos of the minutes of the counting, instilling a climate of suspicion in a campaign which turned out to be more offensive than expected. THE ANGEL responded by threatening legal action in the event of disturbances to public order. “A small number of individuals decided to oppose the will of the majority,” denounced Mr. Masra on Thursday evening, before accusing the electoral institution of wanting to “invert the order of things and 'order of numbers'.

“Any proclamation outside of the ANGE is illegal,” reacted the Minister of Infrastructure and executive of the ruling party, Aziz Mahamat Saleh. In a short time, an impressive military force was deployed to patrol N’Djamena.

Celebrations with bursts of gunfire

The announcement of the results was followed by automatic weapons fire throughout the city. In the center, vehicles sped by to the sound of horns and ululations as a sign of joy. In the southern districts of N’Djamena, known to be favorable to the opposition, the celebrations involving bursts of gunfire were experienced as intimidation. Contacted by Le Monde, several supporters of Succès Masra, holed up at home, express their “sadness”, their “disappointment” and their “concern” for the days to come.

Activists from the Coalition for a United Chad, led by the Patriotic Salvation Movement, a veritable electoral steamroller founded by former president Idriss Déby and which supported his son's candidacy, gathered to celebrate in the premises of their respective organizations. “We won in the first round by knockout. ! The party will continue until the early hours! », enthuses Ali Ouardougou, yellow scarf around his neck. In the center of the track, a man in his fifties, assault rifle in one hand, automatic pistol in the other, staggers while firing shots, sometimes in the air, sometimes on the ground. “What do you want, that’s how we party!” », says amused Abdel-Nasser Garboa, vice-president of the organization.

“He is a young president, he embodies development, progress and stability. Look at the chaos in neighboring countries, while in Chad there is no terrorism,” says Alatchi Diguédé Tchémi, all smiles. The stability of this country of 17 million inhabitants, among the poorest in the world, was the key argument, throughout the campaign, of Mahamat Idriss Déby, this 40-year-old officer who believes he saved Chad from chaos, taking power as head of a junta when his father was killed in fighting with rebels in April 2021, after three decades of French-backed authoritarian rule.

The junta then promised to return power to civilians, before an “inclusive and sovereign national dialogue”, held in the fall of 2022, extended the transition by eighteen months and authorized Mahamat Idriss Déby to run for the supreme office. , provoking an outcry in civil society. The opposition denounces a “dynastic succession” of power.

Trying to calm the spirits

If the transitional president managed to silence – at least temporarily – the threat of rebel groups who, for decades, had tried to overthrow his father, as well as to reduce the political weight of his opponents by appointing them to positions positions of responsibility, his first three years at the head of the country were marked by several episodes of bloody repression.

On October 20, 2022, between seventy-three and three hundred demonstrators, according to sources, demanding the handover of power to civilians, were killed by the police. On February 28, 2024, the opponent Yaya Dillo, also cousin of the transitional president, died during the assault by the army against the headquarters of his party, in the city center of the capital.

Today, many fear that a political crisis could cause further bloodshed. “I am now the elected president of all Chadians,” declared Mahamat Idriss Déby a few hours after the announcement of his victory, as if to try to calm people’s minds. The words of Succès Masra, calling on Chadians to “mobilize peacefully for the truth at the polls”, could lead to a period of uncertainty. Friday morning, no mobilizations were reported in the capital, still under close surveillance by the armed forces.