N’DJAMENA, 11 April 2021 – President Idriss Itno Deby of Chad is expected to win a record sixth term after Sunday’s presidential ballot.
Deby, who came to power in a military coup in 1990, is one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders.
The country’s most prominent opposition leaders quit the race, alleging attacks by security forces, threats on their lives, and fears that the ballot will not be free, fair, or transparent.
They also called on their supporters to boycott the ballot.
President Deby was the first person to vote Sunday morning at the central polling station in the capital, N’Djamena, where elite troops from the presidential guard stood guard.
“I’m calling on all Chadians to come out and vote for the candidate of their choice who will have to tackle the major challenges facing our country over the next six years,” Deby told reporters after casting his ballot.
In his campaign, Deby promised peace and security.
Tension was high and security presence dominant across all parts of the capital and several regional towns on Sunday.
In the runoff to Sunday’s ballot, the government of President Deby has cracked down on weekly peaceful opposition protests staged every Saturday to call for a peaceful transfer of power.
Last February, an attempt to arrest opposition candidate Yaya Dillo left five members of his family, including his mother, shot dead by security forces.
The government said three people were killed and accepted no responsibility for the killings.
The fractured opposition is not united in boycotting the ballot.
Six wannabe presidents, including a former prime minister, Albert Padacke, and Chad’s first-ever female presidential candidate, Lydie Beasemda, a former agriculture minister, are in the running for the country’s top job.
Ten other persons who wanted to run were either barred from running or quit the race.
They include Deby’s main opponent and runner-up during the last presidential ballot in 2016, Saleh Kebzabo, who quit the race to protest violence by security forces.