Freedom House Rating
April 11, 2021
October 24, 2021
April 10, 2016
February 11, 2013
Chad plans to hold a presidential election on April 11, 2021 and long-delayed long-delayed parliamentary elections on October 24, 2021 and local elections in April 2022. Voters will elect members of the Assemblée nationale du Tchad, the unicameral national legislature, for four year terms, plus local offices. Originally due in 2015, the legislative elections have been delayed multiple times.
President Idriss Déby seized power in a rebellion in 1990, and although the country holds elections, there has never been a change in power by a free or fair vote. However, the opposition does hold seats in the National Assembly. Chad is one of the poorest countries in the world, and its economy depends on oil, meaning it will be hit particularly hard by the global slump in oil prices.
Western governments, particularly France, view the Déby regime as a security partner in countering terrorism in the region, and provide military aid. Opposition activists face arrest and mistreatment.
There are concerns that the regime uses counterterrorism as an excuse for suppressing legitimate political opposition. However, terrorism remains a very real threat – for example, in March 2020, Boko Haram terrorists attacked a garrison of Chadian soldiers, killing 92 of them in the worst attack the Chadian army has ever faced. On the other hand, the opposition believes that Déby has mismanaged the country, which is one of the poorest in the world, with two-thirds of the population living in extreme poverty.
Following a 2018 constitutional change, Déby could remain in power until 2033. His party has formally nominated him as its candidate for the April 2021 election – he will be running for a sixth term. The move sparked protests, which took place despite a ban.
The opposition, historically fragmented, is moving toward unity ahead of these elections. A coalition of 15 parties has nominated a single candidate to challenge Déby: political newcomer Theophile Bebzoune Bongoro. However, not all of the opposition will back Bongoro – other opposition candidates do plan to run. Meanwhile, some opposition parties are considering a boycott, including the parties that placed second and third in the last presidential election.
The mandate of the current National Assembly expired in 2015, and the elections have been delayed multiple times. The government has blamed cost for the delays, but the opposition holds that the real issue is a lack of political will. In October 2020, the election commission began the process of revising the electoral register – a highly-anticipated step. Opposition politicians have called on Chadians to register en masse to vote.
Chad sits at the crossroads of various political, religious, and ethnic faultlines in the region. Libya has a long history of involvement in Chad, and frequently played the role of power broker between various Chadian factions. France also has a long history of deep involvement.
RFI (February 22, 2021): Chad: Human rights defender gets 3 years in jail for posting about Déby’s health
Martina Schwikowski, DW (February 11, 2021): Chad: Tensions rise over Deby’s presidential run
AFP (February 9, 2021): Chad opposition parties name single candidate for April 11 poll
Amnesty International (February 9, 2021): Chad: Opposition members and human rights activists banned from freely protesting ahead of election
World Politics Review (July 30, 2020): What Would It Take for Idriss Deby to Fall in Chad?
AFP (July 2, 2020): Chad Sets October 2021 For Delayed Legislative Election
Jeune Afrique/AFP (June 10, 2010 – in French): Chad: new postponement of the legislative elections initially scheduled for 2015
International Crisis Group (May 25, 2020): As Chad’s Problems Mount, What Role for Civil Society?
Will Brown, Foreign Policy (April 1, 2020): As the World Is Distracted, Boko Haram Terrorists Strike a Key Western Ally
The Economist (July 18, 2019): Idriss Déby, Chad’s despot, is struggling to stay in power
21votes does not necessarily agree with all of the opinions expressed in the linked articles; rather, our goal is to curate a wide range of voices. Furthermore, none of the individuals or organizations referenced have reviewed 21votes’ content, and their inclusion should not be taken to imply that they endorse us in any way. More on our approach here.
Updated February 23, 2021