Chadians Vote In A Referendum On New Constitution To End Military Rule In 2024

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The National Commission in charge of organizing the constitutional referendum has said more than eight million Chadians will vote in a referendum on a new constitution on December 17.

There are reports that the ballot seems to be going in General Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno’s favour from the outset, simply because the government has not respected the recommendation of the national dialogue to let the people choose the form of state.

Even if a fringe of the opposition advocates federalism, only one bill is proposed, that of the unitary state, supported by the government.

In N’Djamena, posters cover the walls in favour of a “yes” to a constitution for a “unitary and decentralized state”, which is not very different from the one the military repealed in 2021, enshrining a regime in which the head of state concentrates most of the power.

The “yes” side seems certain to win: the government is waging a high-powered campaign that is crushing the “no” campaign and is partly based on the rallying of supporters of Succès Masra, an opponent who signed an agreement in principle with the military at the end of October. This alliance stands a good chance against a divided opposition that has been the target of violent repression for over a year.

The referendum is the final step towards the elections promised by the junta, which has been in power since 2021.

The two main platforms of parties hostile to the junta are calling for a boycott, and are putting up “Stop the referendum” posters with large red crosses where they can. They hope that a low turnout will delegitimize a general whom they accuse of perpetuating a 33-year “Déby dynasty”.