Africa Electoral Watch | Chad 2024 - Pre-electoral analysis

6 May 2024


Since the 2021 death of former president Idriss Déby Itno — father of current president Mahamat Idriss Déby — Chad has been under a transitional political dispensation. Originally scheduled to last 18 months, it was extended by the Transitional Military Council ruling junta.


Since the 2021 death of former president Idriss Déby Itno — father of current president Mahamat Idriss Déby — Chad has been under a transitional political dispensation. Originally scheduled to last 18 months, it was extended by the Transitional Military Council ruling junta. The presidential election, initially scheduled for 2022, will finally take place on 6 May, almost five months before the end of the transition period, pitting the incumbent against nine opposition candidates. The announcement made on 27 February was decried by segments of the opposition, which sees this modification of the electoral timetable as an act of manipulative manoeuvre by those in power. Faced with a disunited and weakened opposition, it is a foregone conclusion that current President Mahamat Idriss Déby will win. The elections are taking place against a backdrop of increasing anti-regime protests, which have been taking place in the streets of the capital N’Djamena since 2"021. On the economic front, load shedding, lack of access to drinking water and rising inflation have fuelled public discontent.


• The first round of the presidential election will be held on 6 May • Mahamat Idriss Déby is expected to win outright against the 9 other candidates • Voter turnout is expected to be low, a sign of continuing political disinterest and rejection of the system • The election is taking place in a difficult socio-economic context, marked by an increase in extreme poverty over the past five years • Apart from some tensions with certain oil operators, the transition has tried to attract new investors to the country, particularly from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar


An unsurprising ballot

Current transitional president Mahamat Idriss Déby is widely expected to win the May 6 election in the first round. After three years of transition, Chadians appear to be spoilt for choice, with ten candidates validated by the Constitutional Court — the same number as in the 2021 election, which saw Idriss Déby elected for a sixth term with 79.32% of the vote. However, this list of candidates is more exemplified by its noteworthy absentees, notably Yaya Dillo Djerou, cousin of Mahamat Idriss Déby. Considered the transitional president’s main rival, who died on 28 February during the army assault on the Parti Socialiste sans Frontières (PSF) headquarters. Other credible opponents, such as Nassour Ibrahim Neguy Koursami and Rakhis Ahmat Saleh, had their candidacies rejected by the Constitutional Council due to irregularities concerning administrative documents required to confirm eligibility. However, the candidatures of two heavyweights in Chadian politics, former Prime Minister Albert Pahimi Padacké and current Prime Minister Succès Masra, were validated. Masra’s candidacy is seen locally as a front for legitimising the electoral process, which has been criticised by all opposition parties. With just a few days to go to the polls, the question of the election’s credibility is already being raised, as Chadians lack confidence in the electoral system and institutions, the Constitutional Council and the National Elections Management Agency (ANGE), most of whose members were appointed by the current president. The absence of any significant observer missions — only the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie and ECCAS are expected to send observers — amplifies this risk concerning the validity of the results that will be announced. The results of Chad’s constitutional referendum in December 2023 on the adoption of a new constitution, a test ballot for the presidential election, had already been widely contested by an opposition preferring a federal system of government to a unitary state. Half-tone socio-economic record Despite promises of change (access to drinking water and energy, improving the business climate, etc.) and the ensuing announcements, the socio-economic record of the Transition remains mixed, with a deterioration in the provision of certain basic services. In 2024, the IMF expects growth to slow to an estimated 2.9%, compared with 4.4% in 2023. Extreme poverty has risen significantly, from 31.2% in 2018 to 35.4% in 2023. Migratory pressure due to the massive immigration of Sudanese refugees is a further complicating factor. Since 2021, the economic crisis has led to a series of street protests, marked by episodes of social protest and violence. Access to water and electricity is one of the population’s main grievances, and a brake on the informal sector, which accounts for over a third of economic activity. Added to this is rising unemployment among young people under 35, who make up 70% of the population. The transitional government is counting above all on its internal security record and its efforts to strengthen social cohesion. In his speech, Deby emphasised his years in the army, a profile of a man on the ground that he considers best suited to tackling the country’s problems, particularly in terms of security. Improving the business climate The May elections are unlikely to have a major impact on the country’s economic players. The election favourite, Mahamat Idriss Déby, has promised to implement reforms aimed at boosting investor confidence. His economic agenda prioritises the diversification of the economy, which aims to be strengthened by supporting agriculture, industry and emerging sectors. To achieve this, massive investment in basic infrastructure such as roads, energy, and telecommunications will be essential. Security and regional/international cooperation Few significant changes are to be expected in the domains of defense and cooperation policy following the presidential election. Apart from the military partnership with the United States — demobilization of part of the US troops —, few of Chad’s traditional partners are likely to see their interests called into question. Boko Haram’s actions in the Lake Chad Basin have led to the armed forces becoming increasingly involved in numerous counter-terrorism operations. This investment is also placing a heavy burden on the state budget (14% in 2023 versus 12.70% in 2021). At continental level, Chad is keen to play a more active diplomatic role, with one of its representatives applying to head the African Development Bank and other regional organisations.