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The Supreme Court in Chad has cleared incumbent President Idriss Deby, who has been in power for 30 years, to seek a sixth term in office in a farce election to be held on 11 April 2021. He faces nine other candidates, all of whom were qualified by the Supreme Court, including his main and historical rival, Saleh Kebzabo.

The inclusion of Mr. Kebzabo, who had on Monday withdrawn his candidacy, has raised more questions than answers. Why withdraw and then re-join the plebiscite? The people of Chad suspect that Mr. Kebzabo has been brought to provide a semblance of legitimacy to an otherwise farcical process.

Police in Chad, an extension of Deby’s authoritarian rule, fired tear gas and made several arrests as hundreds protested against President Idriss Deby’s nomination to run for a sixth term in April. In the capital N’Djamena on Saturday, hundreds of protesters set tyres on fire and chanted “No to a sixth term!” and “Leave, Deby!”, according to witnesses.

Those arrested include Mahamat Nour Ibedou, a prominent human rights activist. Protests were also held in the cities of Moundou, Doba, Sarh and Abeche.

The opposition leader had cited the “obvious militarization of the political climate” following the deadly attempt by security forces to arrest another opposition candidate, Yaya Dillo, at his home in the capital, N’Djamena.

The 28 February attack left five members of Mr Dillo’s family dead, according to his party, although the government says three people were killed, including the mother of the opposition leader.

The Supreme Court rejected the candidacy of seven other aspirants including Mr Dillo and Succès Masra on grounds that their parties were not “legally constituted”. With the crackdown on a fractured opposition, the incumbent is now seen as the favourite to win re-election for a 6th term.

Recently, the people of Africa, applauded the developments in Niger where the incumbent President Mahamadou Issoufou announced that he will not stand for re-election again after serving his two terms, a move that saw him being awarded the Mo Ibrahim Foundation’s prize for excellence in African leadership.

This is a welcome development in a region where leaders cling onto power for decades. They instead run to parliament and change their constitutions to remove the two term limits.

This continues to be an embarrassment on the integrity of the AU, which constantly finds itself in breach of its own rules. What makes it even more embarrassing is the fact that the people who break the rules are the “Heads of States” themselves.

President Deby has been in power for 30 years now and everyone thinks its high time he leaves. However, like many other African leaders, he refuses to abide by the will of the people.

Like the former president of Gambia, it appears that the only way he would consider leaving is through a military kind of confrontation which spills the blood of innocent civilians and creates unnecessary suffering to citizens.

When are African leaders going to learn to leave power without a fight? They don’t even respect their own constitutions which they preside on. It is a shame to say the least.

Its high time the continental body gets tough with its member countries to strictly adhere to their countries constitutions and respect the rule of law. The AU needs to come up with punitive measures such as sanctions to serve as a deterrent to power-hungry leaders. The AU needs to act as a collective and enforce these measures without fear or favour.

The AU should send a clear message to African leaders who fail to adhere to their own laws that they will not succeed and that AU stands in unity against them as a way of minimizing conflicts on the continent.

Most of the guns that the AU seeks to silence on the continent are caused by disgruntlements due to election cheating and the incumbent overstaying their time in power. People end up picking arms and causing unnecessary suffering and bloodshed.

By managing the transfer of power in a democratic manner, The AU can positively contribute to silencing the guns on the continent. If managed well, many of these guns blazing across the continent will go silent in no time.


Dr Mustafa Mheta

Researcher/Head of Africa Desk

Media Review Network


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