Voters in the Republic of Chad will head to the polls today to elect a president.
Incumbent Idriss Deby Itno has ruled Chad since seizing power in a 1990 military coup. Although Chad is one of Africa’s largest oil reserve holders—producing 1.5 billion barrels annually—its population is one of the world’s poorest. According to the World Bank, nearly one in four Chadians are food insecure and about 15% of Chad’s populace is malnourished. Deby’s critics have long accused the president of using oil revenues to build patronage networks and crackdown on dissent at the expense of the welfare of his people.
Regime-sponsored intimidation and arrests have raised genuine concerns regarding the security of the vote. Three of the ten candidates on the ballot have already resigned, citing intimidation, and Chadians have reported scores of police beatings and arrests ahead of the vote. Anti-government protesters have called for the president to resign.
Though Deby is widely expected to secure a sixth term, protests are expected to continue up to and following the vote. Given the president’s tendency toward using bribery and violence to retain power, it will likely take more than ballot casting to remove Deby and lend legitimacy to democracy in Chad. However, any use of force to end Deby’s reign could face international disapproval from countries that benefit from stable Chadian oil sales, such as France.
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Nick is the Director of the Daily Brief and a contributing Senior Analyst to it. An attorney, his areas of expertise include international law, international and domestic criminal law, security affairs in Europe and the Middle East, and human rights.