Voting is underway in Chad in a presidential election with several candidates - but the expected winner is already clear. Members of the armed forces were first to cast their ballots. It's widely anticipated the incumbent will win the first round. Authoritarian President Idriss Deby has ruled Chad since he seized power some thirty years ago. His main rivals have been barred from running, or have pulled out claiming intimidation.
DW’s Fred Muvunyi reports from Chad - which is home to nearly half a million refugees and plays a key role in battling Islamic extremism in the Sahel region.
Idris Déby is an experienced military man with the rank of a Marshal. Few officers have achieved this military accolade worldwide. He came to power in 1990 through a military coup. And he’s stayed in power since then.
At this campaign rally in the Capital N’Djamena, he jokes that he’s been in power since before his supporters were born. For some, like his aide, Brah Mahamat, Deby is a hero.
But his critics say Deby is a ruthless dictator.
Succes Masra had hoped to be on the ballot paper this year to challenge Idris Deby – but his dreams of becoming a president were dashed. The constitution was changed so presidential candidates must now be 40 or older. Masra blames the incumbent.
Initially 10 candidates were approved by the electoral commission.
Some of them have already withdrawn from the race – saying the electoral process is neither credible nor peaceful. In the capital N’Djamena only one figure is noticeable on huge billboards.
And 'Long live Idris Deby Itno' is the only visible campaign slogan.
Chad’s population is one of the poorest in the world. Young people complain they can’t find jobs. Adissou Dibam has a master’s in political science – but he’s been unemployed for the last 10 years.
Sunday’s election is set to go ahead without the participation of key opposition figures, making it likely that Deby will succeed in his bid to extend his 30-year– rule.
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