Chad Goes To Polls To Vote For A New President

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As Chadians go to the polls Monday to vote for a new president, voters are eager to do battle with the old regime.

Candidates delivered their final campaigning messages on Saturday ahead of the country’s first presidential vote since the death of long-time ruler Idriss Deby.

Success Masra, the current prime minister of the interim government, is one of the main challengers.

Speaking to supporters in the capital, N’Djamena, the former African Development Bank executive promised young people a better future and the creation of more jobs.

A “minimum package of dignity” in his programme includes an ambitious five-year plan to create 200,000 jobs, divided equally between the private and public sectors.

Masra’s grassroots campaign has also promised to deal with other urgent issues like access to electricity, water, and security for all.

“We would like to live in a country at peace and reconcile, so the victory on the horizon is not that of one side against another, but that of all the people of Chad.

“The victory of the hope of peace, the victory of an enthusiastic future over a difficult past,” he said.

He urged his supporters to remain vigilant during the election and the vote count.

Elsewhere in the city, the country’s interim president, General Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, often referred to as “MIDI”, also addressed supporters.

He seized power three years ago after his father, Idriss Déby, was killed, apparently on the battlefield fighting rebels trying to overthrow his government.

Deby senior had ruled Chad with an iron fist for three decades.

A career soldier, Deby junior had promised to hold elections within 18 months, but his government postponed the poll and allowed him to run for president.

He is backed by a broad coalition of political parties and civil society groups and it is widely believed he will win the vote.

“There’s no match because with our candidate we’ve already made a 100 per cent success of the election. No candidate can match our candidate, the MIDI champion,” said supporter Abakar Bishala who attended the rally.

Deby’s supporters boast of his success in optimising the country’s defence and security, national reconciliation, and the organisation of referendums on a new constitution.

Some opposition and civil society groups have called for a boycott of the vote.

Polling stations open at 7 on Monday morning. Results are expected on 21 May, with a possible second round on 22 June.

Chad is the first in a string of countries in the region which experienced coups in the past four years, to hold elections.