Military rule to democracy: Why Chad's presidential election is iconic

Chadian President Mahamat Idriss Deby casts his vote for the presidential elections in N’Djamena, Chad, May 6, 2024. REUTERS/Stringer

For a country whose post-independence history has been marked by instability and violence, the outcomes of the 2024 presidential elections are extremely important for Chad’s future.

The Central African country joined military-ruled states on the continent after General Mahamat Déby took over as transitional leader in April 2021, following the demise of his father, President Idriss Déby.

Idriss Déby died during the Northern Chad Offensive, a military offensive that was spearheaded by the Chadian rebel group Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT) from April 11 to May 9, 2021.

President Idriss came to power after overthrowing the dictator Hissene Habré, after which he set up a multi-party political system and won several elections.

After Mahamat seized power, the country’s elections which were scheduled for 2022 have been postponed till this year.

But voting has begun in Chad and the country’s citizens as well as the rest of the continent and the world await its results.


Voting began on May 6 with more than 8 million registered voters out of the 18 million population, according to the National Election Management Agency (ANGE). 10 candidates in all including a woman are vying for the presidential position.

The main candidates are the incumbent, Mahamat Idriss Déby who is backed by the ruling party Patriotic Salvation Movement (MPS), and Succes Masra, a former opposition leader who returned from exile to serve as prime minister in January.

The third person is Albert Pahimi Padacke who served as prime minister from 2016 to 2018 and ran previously against Idriss in elections, emerging second in the most recent in 2021, with 10% of the vote.

The others are Alladoum Djarma Baltazar of the Chadian Socialist Action Party for Renewal, Theophile Bongo Bebzoune, of the Party for the Rally and Equity in Chad, Lydie Beassemda of the Party for Democracy and Independence, Mansiri Lopsekreo of the Elites party, Brice Mbaimon Guedmbaye of the Movemement of Chadian Patriots for the Republic, Yacine Abdermane Sakine of the Reformist Party and Nasra Djimasngar of the New Day Party.

What major candidates are promising

The country’s history of insecurity and instability with attacks from rebel and extremist groups including Boko Haram have prompted emphasis on such areas. The majority of candidates have their campaign focused on improving security in the country.

Mahamat has promised to concentrate on security, strengthen the rule of law, and boost electricity production, while Succes has promised to focus on the grassroots and solve the important issues of Chadians. Albert Pahimi Padacke on his part, hopes to reform justice and improve security in the country.

Why is this important?

Chad’s election is considered the first recent presidential election in the Sahel region. The country, though rich in oil production, has a poor economy with at least 40% of its population living in poverty. Although many say the election is just to ‘formalise’ the operations of incumbent transitional leader General Mahamat Déby, the outcomes are expected to improve relations with foreign countries including France and the United States.

Unlike other junta-led countries, Chad has a good relationship with France, enjoying a large military presence in the country, but the relationship between the U.S. and Chad is expected to improve after the elections.

Institute for Security Studies also projects that the election will set a benchmark for how regional and continental organisations including the AU and Economic Community of Central African States respond to the threat of military leaders taking over governments.

“Chad’s election will test the AU’s resolve to enforce the norms and principles on UCGs outlined in policy instruments such as the Lomé Declaration and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance. This holds implications for the AU given its previous pronouncements and communique on the Chadian transition,” the Institute for Security Studies stated.

The way forward

The National Election Management Agency (ANGE) says it has up to May 21 to publish provisional results and only Chad's Constitutional Council has the power to proclaim definitive results. A second vote will be held in June if no candidate emerges the outright winner.

You may be interested in