Mahamat Déby wins Chad presidential election

Legend, Mahamat Déby succeeds his father in power for three decades

  • Author, Kathryn Armstrong and Paul Njie
  • Role, BBC News, London and Chad

Chad’s military ruler, Mahamat Déby, has been declared the official winner of the presidential elections, legitimizing his hold on power.

General Déby won 61.3% of the vote, according to the state electoral body, citing provisional results, while his closest rival, Prime Minister Succes Masra, won 18.53%.

Mr Masra had previously declared that he had won a “resounding victory” in the first round of voting and that this victory had been stolen “from the people”.

General Déby, 40, was installed as leader of Chad by the army after his father, Idriss Déby Itno, was killed in a battle with rebel forces in April 2021.

His victory means that the Déby family’s 34-year reign will continue.

After the announcement of the results, supporters of the ruling coalition invaded the streets of N’Djamena to celebrate General Déby’s victory.

In his victory speech published on social networks, he promised to serve all Chadians: “those who voted for me and the president for those who made other choices”.

“I have a special thought for the unfortunate candidates who lost the competition.”

Just before the election results were announced, Prime Minister Masra claimed victory in a Facebook live broadcast and called on his supporters and security forces to oppose what he called an attempt by the general Déby to “steal victory from the people”.

“A small number of individuals believe they can make it appear that the elections were won by the same system that has ruled Chad for decades,” he said.

“To all Chadians who voted for change, who voted for me, I say: mobilize. Do it calmly, in a spirit of peace,” he added.

Monday’s election results were announced two weeks earlier than expected.

They must still be confirmed by the Constitutional Council.

Chad becomes the first country where the army has taken power in West and Central Africa in recent years to hold elections and restore civilian rule.

But critics say that with the election of General Déby, little has changed.

Monday’s vote was largely peaceful, but at least one voter was killed, according to local media.

Irregularities were also reported by the opposition on polling day.

Ten politicians who hoped to run were excluded by the constitutional council due to “irregularities” that some said were politically motivated.

Another potential opponent and cousin of General Déby, Yaya Dillo, was killed by security forces in February when he allegedly led an attack on the National Security Agency in the capital, N’Djamena.

Activists had called for a boycott of the elections.

Many remain in exile following the deadly crackdown on opponents following the October 2022 protests.

This oil-exporting country of nearly 18 million people has not seen a free and fair transfer of power since its independence from France in 1960.

Idriss Déby overthrew Hissène Habré in 1990 and remained in power for the next three decades until his death on the battlefield in April 2021, aged 68.

General Déby had initially committed to remaining as interim head for only 18 months, a period which was later extended. He also said he would not run for president.

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