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Chad is preparing for its upcoming presidential election in May, with 10 candidates being cleared to run, but two prominent opposition figures have been barred from standing. The Constitutional Council cited “irregularities” in their applications as the reason for their rejection. Interim President Mahamat Idriss Deby and Prime Minister Succes Masra have been allowed to participate in the election. The first round of the election is scheduled for May 6, followed by a second round on June 22, with provisional results expected on July 7. This election is part of Chad’s transition back to democracy after years of military rule.

Chad has seen significant political unrest following the death of President Deby’s father in 2021 and multiple coup attempts in the region since 2020. President Deby initially promised an 18-month transition to elections but later postponed them until 2024, sparking protests that were met with violent crackdowns by security forces. The adoption of a new constitution in December, which allowed Deby to run for president, further fueled discontent among the opposition. Prime Minister Masra, who had previously fled the country after a government crackdown on protests, has since returned and confirmed his intention to run for president.

Despite the upcoming election, opposition parties in Chad have raised concerns about the fairness of the process, with one calling for a boycott of the vote, labeling it a “masquerade” to maintain the ruling dynasty’s grip on power. The recent killing of General Deby’s main rival, Yaya Dillo Djerou, in an army assault on his party headquarters has raised further concerns about the environment for the upcoming election. Human Rights Watch has called for an independent investigation into Dillo’s murder, highlighting the need for accountability and transparency in the electoral process.

The current political climate in Chad is tense, with a history of government crackdowns on protests and opposition voices. The barring of key opposition candidates from the presidential election has drawn criticism from both domestic and international observers, who fear a lack of inclusivity in the democratic process. The international community will be closely watching the outcome of the election and the government’s handling of any potential unrest or violence that may arise during the electoral process. Chad’s ability to hold a free and fair election will be crucial in determining its path towards democracy and stability in the region.

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