Chad’s Deby set to win vote boycotted by opposition

N’DJAMENA (Reuters) – Chadian President Idriss Deby is set to win a fourth term in an April 25 election following a boycott of the poll by major opposition candidates in the oil-producing Central African state.

The three main opposition parties said in March they would boycott the vote over lack of transparency after the government rejected their request to review the country’s voters register, and have called on their supporters to follow suit.

Abdelkader Wadal Kamougue, Ngarledjy Yorongar and Saleh Kebzabo say thousands of unattributed voter cards from a February 13 legislative poll won by Deby and his allies, were still in circulation and could be fraudulently used on April 25.

Deby, 59, who has ruled the country since 1990 after seizing power in a coup, rejected the accusation on Friday. He now faces two minor candidates in the poll.

“They have no money to campaign, they know they will be beaten, that is the real reason they are calling for a boycott,” he said during a news conference at his residence.

“Chadians are not stupid. These people (the three opposition candidates) have been wrong several times, they are not trustworthy. You will see that the turnout will exceed 50 percent of the legislative elections,” Deby said.

Deby has survived years of rebellion in the east of the country, where analysts say fighters were backed by neighbouring Sudan until warmer relations between the two countries led to their proxy conflict petering out.

Past attempts to hold the election failed because of a lack of security in the former French colony, which produces about 115,000 barrels of oil per day.

In the streets of the capital N’djamena, Chadians were divided whether they would vote.

“The election is already decided. Idriss Deby will be re-elected because he has done great things in the capital and the provinces. I will vote,” said Haji Mariam, sitting beside her fruit stall in one of N’djamena’s avenues.

Her neighbour, another fruit-seller and a Deby supporter, said she will not vote because it would not be necessary.

“Whether I vote or not, Deby will be elected. Also it is too hot why go boil in the sun,” she said as temperatures have soared over 40°C in the semiarid country.

In another neighbourhood, Djimtoloum, who declined to give his second name, said the election will be a masquerade.

“Deby refused new voter cards because he knows he will be beaten if the elections were honest,” Djimtoloum said, adding that will be staying at home.

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