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Chad’s transitional leader Déby confirms candidacy for May 6 presidential vote


Chad’s transitional president Mahamat Idriss Déby on Saturday confirmed his candidacy for a long-awaited May 6 presidential vote, just three days after his chief rival was killed in murky circumstances.

Mahamat Idriss Deby raises his hand as he is sworn in as Chad’s transitional president, in N’Djamena on October 10, 2022.

Déby took power in 2021 after his father, veteran leader Idriss Déby Itno, died while fighting rebels.

“I, Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno, am a candidate for the 2024 presidential election under the banner of the ‘For a United Chad coalition’,” he said in a speech.

Déby, 39, was sworn in as the country’s transitional president in 2022 and promised a return to civilian rule and elections, but he subsequently extended the transition by two years.

He is almost certain to win the May 6 vote given that his main challenger has been killed and the opposition has been muzzled and repressed.

Speaking on Wednesday from the foreign ministry headquarters, surrounded by troops, Déby claimed that when he seized power in 2021, the army had “saved the country from the abyss and from chaos”.

Dressed all in white, he was cheered by hundreds of representatives of the political groups that make up his coalition, For a United Chad. The coalition claims it comprises “221 parties.

The announcement of Déby’s candidacy comes just days after his leading opponent was killed in an army operation in the capital N’Djamena.

Yaya Dillo Djerou, a cousin of the transitional president, died on Wednesday after troops surrounded the office of his Socialist Party Without Borders.

His party accused soldiers of killing Dillo at point-blank range in an “execution” ahead of the May 6 vote, in which he planned to run. The government has rejected the accusations, saying Dillo “opposed his arrest” and fired on security forces.

Rights group Human Rights Watch called on Saturday for a foreign-backed independent investigation into Dillo’s killing.

“The killing of a potential presidential candidate during an assault by Chadian security forces on an opposition party headquarters raises serious concerns about the environment for elections scheduled for May 6,” HRW said.

“The circumstances of Yaya Dillo’s killing are unclear but his violent death highlights the dangers facing opposition politicians in Chad, particularly as elections approach,” said Lewis Mudge, Central Africa director at HRW.

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