One month before the presidential election, Chadian President Idriss Déby is trying to muzzle the opposition. With the tacit agreement of France.
On Sunday April 11, Chad will vote for its president. The suspense may well not be at the rendezvous: candidate for a sixth term, Marshal Idriss Déby should proclaim his victory in the days following the poll. However, a few weeks before the vote, the country is experiencing renewed tension that worries. Between muzzling of the opposition and violence, the regime has to deal with increasingly strong protest.
But by making himself indispensable within the G5 Sahel, Marshal Idriss Déby has granted himself the automatic support of the West. In February, the Chadian president indeed announced the dispatch of 1 soldiers in the zone of the “Three borders”, between Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. A simple market: by giving a hand in the fight against terrorists, Déby wants to remain master in his country.
Opponents on the verge of a nervous breakdown
It is unlikely, therefore, that the abuses of the regime in place will be condemned by the allies of Chad. Last weekend, the home of a candidate in the April 11 poll was taken over by the police. A former ally of Déby, Yaya Dillo dared to criticize the foundation of the First Lady and was accused of "defamation and insults". A crime of lese-majesté which provoked the thunderbolt of the Chadian president. Consequence: five deaths, including the candidate's mother and son. To pass this deadly episode, the government indicated that Dillo was at the head of an armed rebellion.
Marked by the violence, another candidate withdrew from the race for the presidential palace. Saleh Kebzabo, president of the National Union for Development and Renewal (UNDR) and deputy, had run for several presidential elections. Leader of the opposition, Kebzabo denounces an "electoral masquerade" and therefore will not campaign. He deplores "the climate of insecurity which will certainly mar the electoral campaign for the candidates who will face that of the Patriotic Salvation Movement (MPS)" by Idriss Déby who, according to him, "confiscated the sovereignty" of the Chadian people.
Faced with the use of violence, France turns a deaf ear
Demonstrations have also been suppressed. When Déby was invested by his party, a “people's march”, organized by opposition parties and civil society organizations, took place in N'Djamena. While they demanded the departure of Idriss Déby, the demonstrators were taken to task by the police. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres deplored “the use of violence” and asked the Chadian president to “promote political dialogue”.
The international community will certainly not do more than send a few timid reminders to order to President Déby. Against his support for Operation Barkhane and the dispatch of men to the “Three Borders” area, the Marshal has already attracted the sympathy of his allies, especially Europeans. One way to buy your peace of mind. After having nipped the opposition in the bud, Idriss Déby will be able to preside over the country for an additional term without risk of being criticized by the international community.
A collective of Chadian opponents and members of civil society denounced Déby's impunity last August. "France continues to give carte blanche to the Chadian Idriss Déby Itno", wrote the collective, which is astonished that the marshal has been able to remain in power "for thirty years, against the will of the people and with the French military blessing". The opposition prays that "the people will succeed in defying Deby's praetorian militia and establishing a new political order". She knows that for this she can only count on herself.