Chad interim leader Deby confirms plan to run for president in May

Chad’s military leader has said that he will run in the country’s long-awaited presidential elections in May, just three days after his chief rival was killed in suspicious circumstances.

“I, Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, am a candidate for the 2024 presidential election under the banner of the For a United Chad coalition,” Deby said in a speech on Saturday.

The vote will mark the end of three years of military rule in the politically charged Central African country.

Deby took power after his father and longtime ruler, Idriss Deby Itno, died fighting rebels in the country’s north in April 2021.

The younger Deby promised a return to civilian rule, as well as elections, but the leader extended the transition by two years, despite loud objections from opposition parties.

Last week, the country’s elections agency finally announced that the vote would be held on May 6, following a December referendum promising to amend the constitution.

“Mahamat Idriss Deby said it was not his intention to run for president. He said his focus when he took over from his father when he was killed on the front lines was to stabilise Chad, to ensure that the institutions of governance continue as well as to provide peace and stability to the country and the region,” Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris noted, reporting from Chad’s capital N’Djamena on Saturday.

“Now, he has been endorsed by a coalition of more than 220 political parties and associations.

“But that declaration has been overshadowed by events of the past weeks, which include the raid on the main opposition political party headquarters, the demolition of the party headquarters and the killing of its leader, as well as the arrest of several other members of the political party. Many people feel that that could affect the credibility of the elections on May 6,” Idris said.

Deby’s candidacy confirmation has come just days after one of his main opponents was killed in a military operation in the capital N’Djamena.

Yaya Dillo Djerou, a cousin of president Deby, died on Wednesday after troops attacked the office of his Socialist Party Without Borders (PSF).

PSF officials have accused soldiers of killing Dillo in an “execution” before the May vote, in which he planned to run. Several people were injured in the attacks.

In a statement on Friday, Human Rights Watch called for an investigation into the killing of the politician, known simply as Yaya Dillo, and questioned how ready N’djamena was for free and fair elections.

“The circumstances of Yaya Dillo’s killing are unclear, but his violent death highlights the dangers facing opposition politicians in Chad, particularly as elections approach,” Lewis Mudge of HRW said.

“The prime minister and other key national figures should publicly call for an independent investigation into his death with an eye toward ensuring greater accountability before the election,” Mudge added, referring to Prime Minister Succes Masra.

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Chadian authorities have rejected the accusations against them, saying Dillo “opposed his arrest” and fired on security forces.

<<Alajzeera>>