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Mahamat Idriss Deby has been confirmed as the winner of Chad’s May 6 presidential election, extending his family’s decades-long rule. Deby seized power after rebels killed his father, President Idriss Deby, in 2021. The constitutional council declared Deby the winner with 61 percent of the vote, well ahead of his closest rival. Chad is the first coup-hit state in West and Central Africa’s Sahel region to attempt a return to constitutional rule through elections.

Chad remains a key Western ally in the fight against terror groups in the Sahel region. However, the country’s relationship with Western powers has been strained, with Chad’s air force chief recently requesting the US to halt activities at an airbase. In response, the US announced a temporary withdrawal of at least some troops. Some neighboring countries like Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso have turned to Russia for support instead of Western forces. Deby’s victory ensures the continuation of his family’s rule, which has been in power since the early 1990s.

The losing candidates, Succes Masra and Albert Pahimini Padacke, both challenged the election results, claiming electoral fraud. Masra, who served as prime minister of a transitional government, lodged an appeal with the constitutional council to challenge the preliminary results. Despite the complaints, the council ruled that the challenges lacked sufficient proof and confirmed Deby as the winner. International rights groups had questioned the credibility and fairness of the election, expressing concerns about the democratic process in Chad.

Chad has a history of coups, authoritarian governments, and rebel attacks since gaining independence from France in 1960. Deby’s victory in the presidential election prolongs the rule of his family, despite criticism from international observers about the legitimacy of the election. The International Federation for Human Rights and the International Crisis Group both highlighted issues in the lead-up to the election that raised doubts about its credibility. The continuation of the Deby family’s rule is seen as a setback for democratic processes in Chad.

Celebratory gunfire following the announcement of the preliminary election results led to the deaths of at least 10 people, including children, and injuries to dozens more. Amnesty International and Chadian media reported the casualties, highlighting the violent aftermath of the election results. Deby’s win comes amidst a fragile political situation in Chad, with ongoing challenges to the legitimacy of the election and concerns about the country’s democratic processes. The extended rule of the Deby family raises questions about the future of governance in Chad and the region as a whole.

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