Mahamat Déby’s Victory: Charting a New Course for Chad

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Chad’s National Election Management Agency announced provisional results, declaring military leader Mahamat Idriss Déby as the winner with over 61 percent of the vote. This victory eliminates the need for a run-off, as his closest rival, Prime Minister Succes Masra, garnered only 18.5 percent of the vote. Mahamat Déby, the current President of Chad, rose to power following his appointment as the head of the Transitional Military Council after his father’s death, former President Idriss Déby, in April 2021. 


His military career began with training in Chad and France, followed by combat experiences in various conflicts, including the Chadian Civil War and the Mali War. Déby previously served as the second-in-command during Chad’s intervention in Northern Mal and held important commands within the Chadian military, notably leading operations against rebels in northern Mali.


In the aftermath of President Idriss Déby’s passing, Chad experienced a period of transition marked by both challenges and opportunities under military rule. The interim government initially faced the daunting task of maintaining stability amidst uncertainty. While there were concerns about democratic backsliding, the military was instrumental in preventing widespread chaos and ensuring a semblance of order during a fragile period.


During this time, the military council implemented measures to address longstanding issues such as corruption and insecurity. Anti-corruption campaigns were launched, and efforts were made to strengthen security forces to combat terrorism and insurgency threats in the region. These initiatives garnered support from segments of the population who viewed the military as capable of addressing pressing national concerns.


However, the prolonged military rule also challenged Chad’s democratic aspirations. Civil liberties were curtailed, and political dissent faced repression, raising concerns among human rights advocates and the international community. The absence of a clear timeline for the transition to civilian rule led to skepticism about the military’s commitment to democratic principles.


As the military ruler of Chad, Mahamat Déby faced criticism for assuming power following his father’s death, with some labeling it a “coup.” President Deby’s reign spanned over three decades, characterized by accusations of stifling opposition and maintaining a firm grip on power. Critics have often pointed out the suppression of dissent and irregularities in the electoral process under both father and son. 


However, he garnered support from Chad’s allies, including France, amidst instability caused by rebel activities. He initiated a national dialogue to address internal conflicts but faced opposition from rebel groups, leading to earlier postponement of the just concluded presidential election. Under his administration, Chad experienced economic growth, and Déby received support from countries like Qatar. 


The President of Nigeria, Bola Ahmed Tinubu extended his congratulations to Mahamat Déby, the President-Elect of Chad. Commenting on Chad’s adherence to democracy and orderly transitions and conduct of their elections. He reaffirms that Nigeria is ready to collaborate closely with Chad in efforts to bolster peace, security, and mutual prosperity in the region.


While President Mahamat Idriss Deby celebrates his electoral victory, questions loom over the credibility and fairness of the electoral process. Allegations of electoral fraud cast a shadow over the democratic aspirations of the Chadian people, raising concerns about the consolidation of power in the hands of the ruling elite. 


Chad’s political ecosystem is complex, with deep-seated socio-economic challenges exacerbating political tensions. The country still records high poverty rates, with over 40 percent of its 17 million population living below the poverty line. The influx of refugees from neighboring conflict zones adds to the country’s woes, straining its already fragile infrastructure and resources.


Hence, democratic consolidation and socio-economic development need to take precedence. As the nation navigates this uncertain terrain, the resilience of its democratic institutions and the will of its people will shape its future trajectory.


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