Chad opposition, civil society groups complain of vote fraud and threats

Yaounde – Chad’s opposition, civil society groups and some election observers are condemning violence, intimidation and fraud, including ballot box stuffing, to favor interim President General Mahamat Idriss Deby after the central African state’s May 6 presidential election.

Deby’s main challenger, Prime Minister Succes Masra, is requesting international assistance, saying he is under surveillance and faces threats to his security after at least two people were killed in the election.

Masra says there has been ongoing violence and threats against him and his supporters since election day.

Transformers, the party Masra leads, said on Facebook on Wednesday that its candidate’s residence is under drone surveillance, but gave no further details.

The party condemned what it called threats and serious violence to intimidate its supporters, who it says have also been arbitrarily arrested since Monday’s vote.

Masra accused Chad’s national election management agency, known as ANGE, of rigging the vote in favor of Deby. Masra called on civilians to defend what he called their will expressed at the polls against massive electoral fraud.

Chad’s Coalition of Moral Authorities for Mediation, or CONAMM, an association that includes traditional rulers, clerics, former government ministers and youth and women’s leaders, complained of massive fraud and intimidation during the polls.

Speaking on Chad’s state television on Thursday, CONAMM Secretary General Baniara Yoyana said there were many irregularities, including the seizure and stuffing of ballot boxes in favor of Deby by government officials. He added that such irregularities push civilians who believe their democratic rights are being abused to riot.

Chad’s opposition and civil society say a government soldier who tried to stop ballot boxes in favor of Deby died in a hospital after he was attacked and stabbed by angry voters near Moundou, Chad’s second-largest city.

They also say a civilian was killed on election day in Moundou after a dispute in a polling station.

Chad’s government acknowledges the killings but denies that troops were ordered to vote and rig the election in favor of Deby.

Officials in the central African state say ANGE is a permanent, independent and impartial body and reject what they say are allegations Deby wants to rig the election and proclaim himself Chad’s president.

Civil society groups and CONAMM say Chad could descend into chaos if the government and ANGE fail to ensure that the results they will announce reflect the aspirations of Chad’s citizens as expressed in Monday’s polls.

Saleh Kebzabo’s duty as Chad’s government-appointed state mediator is to anticipate and negotiate an end to potential crises and threats.

He said he is imploring all citizens to remain calm and maintain peace as they await the official proclamation of the results of Chad’s May 6 presidential election by the country’s Constitutional Council, which is the only body empowered to proclaim final results . Kebzabo said the results, which civilians appear to dispute, are fake because Chad’s Constitutional Council has not proclaimed any.

Kebzabo said tensions are also being fueled by a ban on filming or taking pictures of result sheets in polling stations and publishing them on social media and radio and television. ANGE says it imposed the ban because opposition parties can manipulate results they film to ignite violent clashes.

The European Union said on Tuesday that Chadian officials refused to allow nearly 3,000 members of civil society it funded to observe the presidential election.

Deby was proclaimed interim president in April 2021 after his father, Idriss Deby Itno, was killed in a gun battle with rebels after 30 years in power.

He promised an 18-month transition to democracy, but extended it by two years. He is seen by many observers as the likely winner of the May 6 presidential polls, the result of which will be proclaimed by Chad’s Constitutional Council on May 21.

The opposition and civil society accuse Deby of ruling with an iron fist and say he is not ready to hand over power. But Deby says he will hand over power if defeated.

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