Chad holds referendum on new constitution to end military rule

Provisional results expected in late December, and Supreme Court to validate them within 4 days

Chadians are voting on a constitutional referendum on Sunday that would pave the way for elections to return the country to civilian rule.

The polls opened at 8 a.m. (0700GMT) and will close at 5 p.m. (1600GMT).

Gen. Mahamat Deby Itno, Chad’s military leader and the nation’s transition president, voted at polling station number 03 in the capital N’djamena.

Around 8 million registered voters are expected to vote on whether Chad should adopt a new constitution.

The military government in Chad, led by Deby, the former ruling Patriotic Salvation Movement (MPS), and Prime Minister Saleh Kebzabo’s National Union for Democracy and Renewal (UNDR) party all support the “yes” vote.

Analysts believe that the “yes” camp would win the constitutional referendum because it had the resources to mobilize voters during the 20-day campaign and the divided opposition.

Provisional results are expected in late December, and the Supreme Court will validate them within four days.

The “no” vote, which includes opposition parties and some civil society organizations, has urged voters to boycott the referendum.

A group of opposition parties is urging voters to vote “no” because they believe the central coalition government has failed to develop the country.

Sunday’s referendum was recommended by the national dialogue, which ran from April to Oct. 2022, to settle the debate over whether the state should be federal or central.

“The debate on the form of the state, a subject of apparent division, will be decided by the sovereign will of the people,” Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralization Limane Mahamat told reporters after casting his vote in the capital.

What matters is that a fundamental law be passed under the resolutions of the inclusive and sovereign national dialogue, the minister said, adding that everyone has the right to position himself by his or her interests.

Deby took over power in Chad in 2021 after his father, Idriss Deby Itno, died on the frontlines of a war against rebels after ruling for 30 years.

The younger Deby had promised to hand over power to an elected government after 18 months – a deadline that was not met – before postponing elections until 2024.


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