Chad election results to be announced ahead of scheduleThu, 09 May 2024 17:17:06 GMT

Chad’s presidential election results will be released later on Thursday, officials said in a surprise announcement, nearly two weeks earlier than scheduled.It follows Monday’s vote which aims to end three years of military rule in a country crucial to the fight against jihadism across the Sahel desert region.The two main rivals are junta leader Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, who was proclaimed transitional president by the military three years ago, and his Prime Minister Succes Masra, a former opposition leader.Results had been expected on May 21.”The ceremony for the solemn declaration of provisional results from the presidential vote of May 6 will be held today… from 8:00 pm,” (1900 GMT) Ahmed Bartchiret, president of the ANGE national electoral agency, said in a statement.Voters faced a decision whether to extend three decades of Deby family rule but opponents had called for a boycott of the vote, dismissing it as fixed.Supporters of Masra, a 40-year-old economist, have been holding their own count of the ballots in parallel to the official one authorised by the junta-appointed ANGE.Deby and Masra faced eight other candidates who were either relatively unknown or considered not hostile to the regime.- ‘Pilot, co-pilot towards democracy’ -Since announcing he would stand, Masra said he was doing so to maintain the current team of “pilot and co-pilot” of a plane headed “towards democracy”, referring to himself and Deby.Masra had been fierce opponent of the regime before it named him prime minister in January after he returned from exile.He has faced accusations of being a stooge by the opposition, which has been violently repressed and its leading figures barred from standing.Early in the campaign, observers predicted a massive win for Deby, also aged 40, whose top rival was killed earlier this year.However, Masra ramped up considerable support on the stump and could force a second round of voting, scheduled for June 22.Deby was proclaimed transitional president by fellow army generals in 2021 after his father, Idriss Deby Itno, was killed in a gun battle with rebels. He had ruled Chad with an iron fist for 30 years.Deby promised an 18-month transition to democracy but then extended it by two years.Opposition figures have since fled, been silenced or joined forces with Deby.Deby’s cousin and chief election rival Yaya Dillo Djerou was shot point-blank in the head in an army assault on February 28, according to his party.The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) had warned that the election appeared “neither credible, free nor democratic”.The International Crisis Group (ICG) also noted that “a number of problems in the run-up to the balloting cast doubt on its credibility”.On Wednesday, Masra’s Transformers party condemned violence against him and his supporters, urging people to defend their “will expressed at the ballot box” against electoral fraud.