Why Idriss Deby’s fifth term win as president is not exactly a surprise for Chad

Chad’s longest serving president, Idriss Itno Deby, has just extended his rule for a fifth time, following his big win in the Chad presidential elections held in the country’s capital city, N’Djamena on April 10. Deby’s victory happened despite certain controversies surrounding his bid for the position which recently reflected in Chad’s nationwide protests. And before now, Chadians have protested against Deby’s rule in the form of failed coups.

According to the electoral body in Chad who announced his victory yesterday, Deby defeated his opponents in the presidential elections by garnering 61.56 percent of the votes that were cast.

While many Chadians may not be excited about the 63-year-old president’s reelection, a number of events have played out both historically and contemporarily in Chad to suggest that his present victory is anything but a surprise.

Idriss deby: A very brief political history

In the year 1990, Idriss Deby seized absolute power in N’Djamena following a coup d’état in which he successfully overthrew his predecessor and former ally, Hissene Habre. According to him, his reign was going to lead Chad into an era of democracy and political stability. Deby occupied the most powerful office in Chad unofficially for the next six years. After 1996, it became crystal clear that the democracy he promised might never have been part of the plan.

ALL his elections have been controversial

Granted, Deby paved the way for history to be made in Chad by establishing the multiparty system of elections in the country and this was supposed to be a good thing for Chad. Interestingly enough, the system appears to be tailored to suit just Deby, as no other individual has been president in the last 25 years.

The three presidential elections held since 1990 have all been tagged frauds, and Chadians have risen up against Deby in one form or another since. The president of Chad has equally received criticism over his corruptly run administration, fraught with human rights abuses and oppression. As a matter of fact, in 2005 Deby eliminated the presidential term limits.

Suffice to say, the citizens of Chad didn’t think that Deby would be leaving his coveted office any time soon.

The president ‘knows what’s best’ for Chad

Deby promises that he would reinstate the term limits which were done away with in 2005 when Chad’s life “was in danger” during his current tenure. And why shouldn’t anyone believe him? The number one Chadian who is currently the Chairman of the African Union managed to boost the country’s economy significantly with help from oil revenue while playing a crucial role in the fight against Boko Haram in Sub-Saharan Africa.

However, the numerous other broken promises that hang over Deby’s almost three-decade-long rule which have largely inhibited democracy and freedom, along with the increasing displeasure of Chadians as regards their socio-economic conditions and gross acts of human rights abuse by those close to him as well as under his command probably do not represent a source of hope for change in Chad any time soon.

Sit-tight leadership has become a sort of norm in many African countries, with leaders like Deby championing and defending the cause as that which is intended for the political and economic benefit of the citizens in such countries. Yet these ‘benefits’ are usually rejected by the people, seeing as they are accompanied with prominent features such as violence and corruption.

Despite all of this, it appears that this system of leadership is a trend that might outlive most on the continent.

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