Despite mounting calls for political change, Chad’s Idriss Deby is seeking to extend his three-decade rule as polls open on Sunday.
While Deby has stepped up campaigns across the country for a sixth term to keep him in power until 2033, opposition leaders have urged their supporters to follow their path and boycott the poll as did they.
They are also pushing for fresh protests against Deby’s move.
“I cannot participate in a poll where the outcome is already known,” said Saleh Kebzabo, the runner-up in the 2016 presidential poll,
Kebzabo and opposition leader Ngarlejy Yorongar pulled out of the race after a violent arrest attempt of another candidate, Yaya Dillo, in late February, allegedly killing his mother and son and wounded several others, an accusation which the government blatantly denies.
The United Nations has since called for an investigation into the matter.
Deby came to power spearheading the rebellion that overthrew longtime military ruler Hissene Habre in 1990. He won elections in 1996 and again in 2001 before pushing through a constitutional change in 2018 that could allow him to stay in power until 2033.
“There are those who say a sixth term is too much; I say they’re wrong,” Deby, 68, told a rally in the capital, N’Djamena.
“I’m confident we’re going to win.”
Nine other candidates officially approved recognized by the Constitutional Court are expected to contest against Deby in the polls on Sunday.
Although three challengers whose files were approved have officially filed to withdraw from the race, their names are still on the ballot.