- Idriss Deby seeking re-election after 26 years in office
- African oil producer is wedged between Libya and Nigeria
Chad began counting votes after a presidential election Sunday as President Idriss Deby seeks to extend his 26-year rule amid growing discontent among young people and an economic downturn due to a fall in global oil prices.
Twelve candidates are challenging Deby, a former army commander who took power in 1990 and has won elections four times since. Chad scrapped term limits in 2005. About six million people, or half the population, were eligible to vote, according to the electoral commission. Polling stations opened at 7 a.m. and closed after 6 p.m. Voting began about an hour late because delegates of political parties hadn’t arrived.
Opposition parties have pledged to monitor the proceedings and announce results from their own count to run parallel with those of the electoral commission. Unions and civil-society groups withdrew their representatives from the commission last week in response to the detention of four activists who had called for protests against Deby’s candidacy. One candidate withdrew from the contest yesterday.
Chad’s economy has been hurt by the sharp drop in international oil prices and a deterioration of regional security, with an increasingly chaotic Libya to the north and the Boko Haram Islamist insurgency in Nigeria to the south. Deby has played a key role in mobilizing regional armies to fight militants. Oil revenue accounts for about 70 percent of Chad’s budget.