Chad opposition chief quits presidential race after shoot-out | Elections Information
Saleh Kebzabo says his party “plain and simple” decided to withdraw from the April vote after a fatal shootout against another candidate.
Chad’s main opposition figure has announced its withdrawal from the country’s upcoming race for the top spot, accusing veteran President Idriss Deby of using violence to intimidate rivals.
Saleh Kebzabo said his party had “plain and simple” decided not to vote in the April 11 presidential election. That emerges from a statement released Monday, the day after a fatal exchange of fire at another candidate, Yaya Dillo.
Kebzabo condemned a so-called “military attack” on Dillo’s house in the capital, Ndjamena.
“The climate of uncertainty … will definitely overshadow the campaigning of the candidates they face [Deby’s] Patriotic salvation movement [MPS],” he said.
When he retired from the race, Kebzabo refused to “offer cover for a large-scale masquerade”.
Deby has ruled Chad for more than 30 years and is running for a sixth term on April 11th.
Kebzabo, a former journalist who was a minister under Deby in the late 1990s, has held the presidency four times.
In the 2016 elections, he took second place with 12.8 percent of the vote.
A firefight broke out at Dillo on Sunday when security forces came to arrest him. Dillo had teamed up with “armed persons” after refusing to obey two arrest warrants filed last year for allegedly defamation of the president’s wife.
The government said two deaths occurred when security forces came under fire from his home and were forced to respond. Five people were wounded, three of them soldiers.
However, in a series of posts on social media, Dillo said his home was surrounded and his mother and several relatives were killed.
In his recent messages, he said an armored vehicle smashed the door and asked the public to “stand up”.
Dillo’s account could not be independently verified and authorities did not respond to AFP news agency requests. His whereabouts were also unknown and calls went unanswered.
Several armored vehicles, as well as gendarmes and members of the elite Presidential Guard, were used on the streets leading to his home, but according to an AFP journalist there was no visible increase in security in the presidency or the Department of Defense.
However, cell phone services were slow and internet access in Ndjamena was also cut off.
The authorities have banned public demonstrations over the past few weeks over the upcoming elections.
Amnesty International, a watchdog for global rights, has done what it calls “unnecessary and disproportionate restrictions” on the right to peaceful assembly and “arbitrary arrests”.
Dillo is a formal rebel leader who fought Deby in 2006 before joining his government and becoming a minister. Most recently, he was Chad’s representative to the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC).
He had submitted papers to contest Friday’s election.
Deby, a 68-year-old former chief of the armed forces, has been Chad’s ruler since December 1990 when he removed the autocratic leader Hissene Habre. He pushed through a new constitution in 2018 that reinstated the deadlines but kept him in power until 2033.
Hundreds of people took to the streets earlier this month to protest his candidacy in the April vote.
During his long reign, Deby was accused of authoritarianism and nepotism by critics and failed to tackle the poverty that affects many of Chad’s 13 million people.
Despite its oil wealth, the country ranks 187th out of 189 in the United Nations’ Human Development Index (HDI).