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Chad - Politics

No date has yet been set for the holding of the legislative elections, several times postponed since 2015. The Patriotic Salvation Movement (MPS, in power) has strongly criticized the "foreign injunctions calling the government to assume its responsibilities" for the holding of this election. The US Embassy had indeed welcomed the commitment made by the power to hold elections "this year", but also stressed "that it is essential that the entire electoral process is credible".

The Chadian opposition, divided and weakly represented, welcomed the American initiative. Thus, the National Union for Development and Renewal (UNDR) called "the other Western powers to follow suit in the United States to call on Chad to comply with its democratic principles." For its part, the Party for Freedom and Development (PLD) deplores "that the Chadian government is not able to organize legislative at a fixed date and that the Western powers dictate it to hold elections," said a responsible for this opposition party, Mahamat Ahmat Alhabo.

The Chadian government’s priorities include organizing elections this year in strict compliance with the regulatory blueprints, President Idriss Déby said in N’Djamena on 29 May 2019. He said as part of consultations to that effect, the state will release an envelope of CFA30 billion from its own coffers. Deby told members of the electoral commission that the state’s first disbursements were made to the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) and the Permanent Bureau of Elections, which received CFA900,000,000 and CFA436,640,000 respectively.

Legislative elections in Chad planned for November 2018, were postponed to May 2019, a member of the electoral panel organising the vote told AFP 13 November 2018. The voting date had been pushed back several times in the central African state. The original mandate of the legislature expired in June 2015, but has been prolonged. "We have scheduled the holding of the legislative elections for the month of May according to our timeline, which will be examined and possibly adopted on Friday," said Abdramane Djasnabaille of the election commission (CNDP). The 15-strong National Framework for Political Dialogue was formed in April and is made up of members of the ruling majority and the opposition.

Parliamentary elections had been postponed since 2015. Although the constitution provides for freedom of peaceful assembly, the government did not respect this right. The government regularly interfered with opposition protests and civil society gatherings, particularly before and after the April 2016 election. The constitution provides for freedom of opinion, expression, and press, but the government severely restricted these rights, according to Freedom House. Authorities used threats and legal prosecutions to curb critical reporting. Although the constitution provides for the right to privacy and inviolability of the home, the government did not always respect these rights. Authorities entered homes without judicial authorization and seized private property without due process. Security forces routinely stopped citizens to extort money or confiscate goods.

A former commander-in-chief of the army, the autocratic President Idriss Deby has been in power for since 1992. Foreign powers respect him. Chad is seen as a relatively stable country in an unruly region. Chad possesses well-trained security forces, which Deby keeps on a tight rein. His troops are deployed in Nigeria, Niger and Cameroon, where they are battling the Boko Haram Islamist insurgency.

In April 2016 President Idriss Deby Itno, leader of the Patriotic Salvation Movement (MPS), was elected to a fifth term with 59.92 percent of the vote. While the election was orderly and had a high voter turnout, it was neither free nor fair, and there were numerous irregularities. Runner-up Saleh Kebzabo, who received 12.8 percent of the vote, refused to accept the outcome of the election, stating it was an “electoral stickup.” In the 2011 legislative elections, the ruling MPS won 118 of the National Assembly’s 188 seats. International observers deemed that election legitimate and credible. Since 2011, legislative elections had been repeatedly postponed for various reasons.

The government, headed by President Idriss Déby Itno and dominated by his Zaghawa clan, is characterized by a strong executive branch that controls the political landscape. President Déby Itno, who was one of the country’s leading generals, came to power in a coup in 1990. He won reelection in 1996, 2001, 2006, and 2011. In 2007, the government and political parties signed the August 13th Accords, which set conditions for transparent elections in 2010 and 2011. The August 13th Accords, negotiated with the assistance of the EU and other international partners, including the US, emphasized the creation of conditions to enhance good governance.

Following the political crisis caused by the constitutional revision of 2005, which allowed Déby president to appear before the voters for a third term in 2006, the international community (France, EU and OIF) has supported the political dialogue inter-tchadien under the "political agreement to strengthen the democratic process in Chad" concluded on 13 August 2007.

This process allowed the holding of legislative and presidential elections in 2011. The elections were held in February 2011, giving an absolute majority in the presidential party (Patriotic Movement of Hi - MPS), with 114 seats out of 188. The election has generally kept in good conditions. The presidential election was held on April 25, 2011. The three main opposition candidates, denouncing the lack of transparency of the vote, announced the "suspension" of their application and called for a boycott.

International observers, including the EU, African Union, Organization Internationale de la Francophonie, and government and opposition-affiliated civil society actors, deemed the 2011 legislative elections legitimate and credible. There was no election-related violence or evidence of a systematic effort to deny voters their right to choose freely. Security and government officials generally maintained a neutral posture during the election campaign.

President Déby was elected in the 1st round with 83% of votes (participation rate: 55%). The opposition contested these figures. The presidential vote in 2011 occurred without violence or incident. Local groups, however, criticized the lack of participation by the three opposition candidates and low voter turnout.

Local elections (the first in the history of the country) were held in January 2012 in 42 communes (10 districts of Ndjamena, 10 cities of over 20 000 and 22 district capitals). Won by the ruling party (MPS), they nevertheless allowed the opposition to win two major municipalities in the south.

The Monitoring Committee of the political agreement of 2007 was replaced in April 2013 by a new structure, the "National policy dialogue framework", responsible for preparing the next elections (parliamentary initially planned in 2015, president in 2016) . The latter was joined at the end of May 2014 the main opposition coalition.

The adoption of a constitutional law by the Chadian National Assembly, February 27, 2015 extended the mandate of that meeting, which was scheduled to expire July 20, 2015, "until the establishment of the new assembly "- parliamentary elections are now planned for 2017. the biometric census operations of the electorate were completed on 15 December 2015, paving the way for the holding of presidential elections on the due date.

Unlike the two previous elections, the opposition had decided to participate in the electoral contest, presenting 12 candidates face the incumbent. The campaign was marked in particular by a strong mobilization of collective civil society. Voting operations (10 April) took place in a calm and were also characterized by good participation of Chadian voters (66%). The results, announced May 3 by the Constitutional Council, give victory to the incumbent president with a score of 59.92%, ahead of Mr Saleh Kebzabo (UNDR) to 12.77%.

In terms of governance, even if the country's image abroad remains negative, the exercise of fundamental freedoms is real on much of Chad. The press and associations (of human rights or other) act quite freely. The "States General of the press" in May 2009 led to the adoption of a new press law on 18 August 2010, which abolishes prison sentences for press offenses, including the offense of insulting the head of the state, but allows release of suspension for six months.

On May 5, 2016 Chad’s Constitutional Council announced that President Deby Itno had won re-election for a fifth term. The United States welcomed the technical improvements to the electoral process this year, including the introduction of biometric voter identification cards, and encourages the government to correct remaining deficiencies. We further call on the government to demonstrate its commitment to democracy by opening more civic and political space, which will bring greater credibility to future elections. The US expressed concern about reports of abuse and kidnapping targeting opposition supporters and urge the Chadian Government to fully investigate and account for these allegations. "Those found responsible for any misconduct or abuses should be brought to justice through a credible, transparent process in accordance with the laws of the Republic of Chad."

Chad’s history has been punctuated by intermittent rebellions and coup attempts; the most recent of which was in 2008. In February 2008, rebels occupied N’Djamena and attacked the Presidential Palace. That incursion was followed by rebel operations in eastern Chad in June 2008. Internal and external security-related concerns inform public decision-making, including heavy investment in training and equipping Chad’s security forces. Presidential and legislative elections, both held in 2011, occurred without violence, though the opposition did not participate in the presidential elections. Local elections were held for the first time in January 2012. Municipal elections in 2012 proceeded without serious security incidents.

On 2 February 2008, rebel forces entered the capital city of N'djamena in Chad in an attempt to overthrow President Idriss Déby. Fighting continued in the capital for two days before the rebels were driven back. Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières, MSF) reported that over 270 people were killed during the fighting and nearly 1,000 injured. The Red Cross provided similar figures to the Christian Science Monitor, reportedly stating that "hundreds died in the fighting and thousands were injured" (Christian Science Monitor 14 Feb. 2008). The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that 30,000 people fled to Cameroon. By the end of February, it was reported that although many people had returned to Chad, many others remained hesitant to go back citing insecurity as the reason. On 7 February 2008, the government imposed a country-wide "dusk-to-dawn" curfew and a week later, declared a state of emergency authorizing house searches and controls on the private and public press. The state of emergency was lifted on 15 March 2008.

The group involved in the attempted 2008 coup was a new alliance of three rebel forces: the Union of Forces for Democracy and Development (Union des Forces pour la démocratie et le développement, UFDD), also known as the United Force for Democracy and Development, led by Mahamat Nouri who is of Goran (Gorane) ethnicity and is a former key member of the government of President Idriss Déby; the Rally of Forces for Change (Rassemblement des forces pour le changement, RFC) led by Timane Erdimi of Zaghawa ethnicity, another high ranking former member of Déby's administration who is also Déby's nephew; and the UFDD-Fondamentale, a splinter group of the UFDD led by Abdelwahid Aboud, a Chadian Arab also. According to the New York Times, the armed rebels represented a variety of ethnic groups. They alleged that Déby's administration favours members of the Zaghawa clan, who reportedly "make up less than 3% of Chad's population" (ibid.). A displaced Chadian who fled to northern Cameroon during the coup attempt to escape the violence in N'djamena told the UN Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) that the rebels had targeted primarily Zaghawan Chadians.

Various groups expressed concern about the government's reaction to the attempted coup. In a press release dated 7 February 2008, the deputy program director for Africa at Amnesty International (AI) expressed concern that the government was launching a "major witch-hunt" against people suspected of supporting the rebels. Of fifteen cases of "apparent arbitrary detention" documented by Human Rights Watch (HRW) in a 20 March 2008 article, eleven cases involved individuals of Goran ethnicity, the predominant ethnic group of the UFDD, the "rebel group that led the coup attempt" (20 Mar. 2008). The HRW article describes "abuses" committed by state security forces including looting, extortion, beatings, torture and rape that were committed by security forces during "house-to-house searches" (ibid.). Amnesty International (AI) USA reported that three men who were thought to "belong to the same ethnic community as the armed opposition groups" were victims of extrajudicial executions in the immediate aftermath of the attempted coup (AI USA 7 Feb. 2008).

Concerns were expressed about the arrest of opposition politicians during the state of emergency . A New York Times article published on 12 February 2008 reported that "at least half a dozen" opposition leaders had disappeared after being last seen under escort by men in military uniform that bore no insignias. The article included a quote by a member of an opposition party who stated, "[a]ll of us who are against this government are afraid now" (New York Times 12 Feb. 2008). The head of the Chadian human rights organization Human Rights Without Borders(Droits de l'homme sans frontiers, DHSF), who fled to Cameroon following a visit to his home by the police, was quoted in an IRIN article as saying that "[a]nyone who was suspected of supporting the rebels was arrested" following the coup attempt (UN 20 Mar. 2008).

In particular, concerns were raised about the detention of the following three opposition leaders: Lol Mahamat Choua, a former Chadian president who was heading a committee on democratic reform (ibid.); Ibni Oumar Mahamat Saleh, spokesman for the Coordination for the Defense of the Constitution (Coordination pour la défense de la Constitution, CPDC); and Ngarlejy Yorongar, a veteran opposition leader and head of the political party Federation Action for the Republic (Fédération Action pour la République, FAR). Choua was reportedly placed under arrest and later released. Yorongar was detained and then fled to France via Cameroon (ibid.). As of July 2008, the whereabouts of Ibni remain unknown.

Yorongar told the press that Ibni was severely beaten in custody and that he fears that Ibni has died as a result. In a report by Afrique Express, Yorongar alleges that he was initially detained with both Choua and Ibni; however, Choua contradicts Yorongar's version of events claiming that he was always kept in solitary detention.

Authorities arrested and beat journalists. For example, on 02 October 2015, security forces arrested without warrant Stephane Mbairabe Ouaye, publisher of Haut Parleur, an independent newspaper published twice a month. While held in a detention center attached to the N’Djamena police headquarters, Mbairabe was handcuffed, blindfolded, and beaten by plainclothes police to make him reveal his sources for an article entitled “Salay Deby, national thief”; the article criticized the president and his brother, Director General of Customs Salay Deby. Mbairabe, who was released, was awaiting trial on libel charges at year’s end. In a separate case in July, after publication of an article entitled “Itno Brothers Maintain the Dictatorship,” Mbairabe received a court summons “in order to find him guilty of the charges against him and order him to pay Salay Deby such amount as will be fixed at the bar.” Commenting on the July case, Reporters without Borders (RSF) stated, “It is a strange summons to a hearing that predicts the defendant’s guilt in advance.”

On 10 July 2015, an N’Djamena judge ordered the closure of the weekly Abba Garde at the request of the High Council for Communication (HCC), which acted in response to a complaint by the President’s Office, according to RSF. A separate court order issued the same day demanded the seizure of all copies of issue No. 109. Both orders, according to RSF, appeared to be in response to an article entitled “Idriss Deby, the Hitler of Modern Times,” which was published in issue No. 108. Commenting on the closure, RSF noted, “Regardless of what the journalist wrote, the decision to close the newspaper contravenes Chad’s 2010 press law, article 44 of which states that such a decision can only be taken by a court after a hearing in which the affected party is able to defend itself.” RSF also noted that the seizure was clearly arbitrary, since it was the preceding issue that had the offending article. According to Moussaye Avenir de la Tchire, the publisher of Abba Garde, harassment of the newspaper began on July 5, when ANS members tried to arrest him in the southeastern town of Bongor. De la Tchire, who fled the country for one month and then returned, had been arrested and detained for four months in 2013.

The government of the Central African republic of Chad said it has prevented a putsch set to take place on 01 May 2015. The coup was in the works since December 2012, but Chadian security agencies were aware of conspirators’ plans from the beginning and prevented them from taking action, the government said Wednesday. The governmental communique did not identify any suspects, saying only that they were detained and handed over to prosecutors. Media reports named lawmaker Saleh Makki of the oppositional National Union for Democracy and Renewal party among those detained.

Chad’s President Idriss Deby has been re-elected for a fifth term in office, the country’s elections commission 22 April 2016. Deby gathered 61.56 percent of the votes, the commission said. The turnout at the election was about 76 percent.

In the April 2016 presidential election, voters re-elected President Deby to a fifth term with 59.92 percent of the vote; Saleh Kebzabo placed second with 12.8 percent. While the election was orderly and had a high voter turnout, it was neither free nor fair, and there were numerous irregularities. According to the African Union, staff at polling stations was not adequately trained, 81 percent of ballot boxes observed had not been checked to see if they were empty at the start of polling, and 10 percent of polling stations did not provide secrecy in voting. Runner-up Kebzabo refused to accept the outcome of the vote, stating that it was an “electoral stickup.” Other opposition politicians cited alleged ballot stuffing and the disappearance of ballot boxes.

Some military personnel were required to vote in the open, in front of colleagues and superiors. According to pan-African television channel Africa 24, more than two dozen military members were reportedly jailed and beaten for refusing to vote for the president. FM Liberte coverage included opposition calls for the Independent National Electoral Commission to discount the results of military voting pending investigation. Opponents of the regime were jailed for organizing peaceful protests. In the meantime, the situation deteriorated even further.

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