Chad's Constitutional Council to Finalize Election Results Despite Petitions for Annulment

Yaounde, Cameroon — Chad's constitutional council was expected on Thursday to declare final results of the May 6 presidential election and name transitional president General Mahamat Idriss Deby as the winner. This despite calls for annulment of the polls due to what the opposition says was massive fraud. Analysts say uncertainty lies ahead as tensions remain high.

Residents of N'djamena, say that since Wednesday night, there has been a massive deployment of troops on streets and what they call the capital city's strategic locations and neighborhoods considered to be opposition strongholds.

Twenty-four-year-old Abdoul Koulemann is a student at the University of N'djamena. He spoke with VOA on Thursday morning via a messaging app.

Koulemann says business has been at a standstill in N'djamena since Chad's constitutional council announced on Wednesday night that results of the central Africa states May 6 presidential elections are to be proclaimed on Thursday.

Koulemann says the presence of heavily armed troops deployed by Chad's military government all over N'djamena scares civilians. He says streets are empty because civilians have decided to remain in their houses as tension is perceived in the city.

Last week, Chad's Elections Management Body, or ANGE, announced that Mahamat Deby had won the May 6 election with 61 percent of votes.

Monday, several opposition candidates filed petitions with the constitutional council challenging the official results. They say there was massive electoral fraud, including the stuffing of ballot boxes and soldiers chasing opposition representatives from polling stations. Prime Minister Succes Masra, who finished second with 18 percent, says voters were intimidated and arrested.

Deby calls the allegations unfounded.

Deby earlier this week said he is now the president of all Chadians, including candidates who did not win the May 6 polls. He says he is now concentrating in respecting his electoral promises, especially bringing back peace to Chad.

Opposition and civil society groups say they are also surprised over the council's announcement that it was ready to finalize the election results without ruling on the petitions.

Electoral laws give the council until May 21 to rule on the petitions, according to the opposition.

The council has already said that election-day incidents like fighting and the late arrival of ballot boxes to polling stations were not enough to influence the outcome of the vote.

Beral Mbaikoubou is spokesperson for an opposition party, the Movement of Chad Patriots for the Republic, or MPTR.

He says it is now evident that Chad may descend into violence and chaos after Thursday's proclamation of definitive results by the constitutional council because Deby rigged elections by falsifying results sheets and intimidating civilians with his military. He says the results declared by ANGE and to be confirmed by Chad's constitutional council were prepared by Deby, who wants to confiscate power.

Mbaikoubou said civilians should stay at home to avoid confrontations with the military, which he says was deployed by Deby to crack down on people protesting election results.

Deby took power in April 2021 as leader of a transitional government after his father, Idriss Deby Itno, who had ruled Chad for more than three decades, died fighting northern rebels.

Lydie Beassemda is the only female who contested the polls. Speaking on Chadian state TV Thursday, she said that by confiscating power, Deby is failing to show love for the country. She says Chad is becoming a Deby dynasty.

She says her Party for Integral Democracy and Independence wants military leaders to note that Deby is not Chad's democratically elected president and civilians have so far decided not to violently protest against stolen victory because they want peace in the volatile nation. She says angry Chadians may react violently if government troops continue to provoke civilians whose victory is stolen.

The Economic Community of Central African states, or CEEAC says Chadians should avoid chaos by protesting peacefully if they feel cheated in the elections.

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