Monday, June 17, 2024 | 14:46 WIB

Chad’s President Pledges Respect of Referendum that Paves Way to Civilian Rule

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Jakarta, IO – Chad’s Supreme Court will on Thursday declare definitive results of the country’s constitutional referendum that paves the way for a return to civilian rule. 

Chad’s military leader said he will respect the verdict, which is likely not going to be different from provisional results published on Sunday indicating the central African state’s new constitution was approved by 86% of voters. 

Some opposition leaders challenge the figures, saying the constitution approved in a referendum does not guarantee that the military leaders are ready to hand power to civilians. 

Chad’s transitional military government said the large turnout of voters in the central African state’s constitutional referendum indicates that civilians overwhelmingly adhere to General Mahamat Idriss Deby’s plans to hand power to civilian rule by December 2024. 

Deby spoke on Chad’s National Television this week after provisional results of the constitutional referendum were announced. 

He congratulated civilians, political actors and civil society activists who helped Chad’s constitutional referendum to unfold peacefully from Nov. 25, when the campaign was launched, through Dec. 17, when the referendum took place, up to Dec. 24, when the National Commission Charged with the Organization of the Constitutional Referendum, CONOREC, announced provisional results. 

According to the provisional results, the new constitution was approved by 86% of voters. 

CONOREC reports that more than 63% of the more than 8.3 million voters took part in the Dec. 17 referendum. 

But Chad’s opposition leaders and civil society groups say a majority of voters did not turn out to vote. 

Opposition parties, including the  Union of Democrats for Development and Progress, report that several million voters did not even collect their voter cards. 

Before the referendum, CONOREC reported that it had launched a campaign for several million voters to collect their voter cards to be eligible to vote in the referendum. 

Many opposition leaders and civil society groups described the referendum as a sham to prepare for an eventual election of Deby, a 39-yearold military general. 

Deby assumed power in April 2021 following the death of his father, General Idriss Deby Itno, who took power in a 1990 coup. 

Chad’s opposition and civil society say the younger Deby started showing his intention to hold onto power after he failed to organize elections within 18 months from April 2021 as he had promised. He instead extended his rule until November 2024. 

Saleh Kebzabo is Chad’s civilian transitional prime minister, appointed by Deby, He said opposition parties and civil society groups that claim that Deby is doing everything possible to illegally continue his family’s 31-year autocratic rule are ill-intentioned. 

He said it would be better for political parties and civil society groups to prepare for elections that will hand power to civilians by December 2024 instead of wasting their time in unnecessary political quarrels. 

Kebzabo said the referendum is key for a return to civilian rule by 2024. The opposition argued it does not bar Deby from running for president. 

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Chad’s military rulers said voters in the referendum also decided that Chad would continue as a decentralized system of government, with the country’s 23 regions to have greater financial autonomy with elected regional officials. 

Chad’s Supreme Court has until Thursday to examine provisional results and declare definitive results of the Dec. 17 referendum. 

The opposition, CONOREC, military government and civil society groups said they do not expect any changes from the provisional results declared on Sunday. (VoaNews)

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