Chad’s military leader sworn in as president after disputed election

close South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation struggles to call Iran an authoritarian regime Video

South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation struggles to call Iran an authoritarian regime

Naledi Pandor dodges a question asking if Iran is an authoritarian regime while speaking at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace last month. (Courtesy: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.)

  • Mahamat Deby Itno was sworn in as Chad's president, concluding a disputed transition to democracy after his father's three-decade rule.
  • His main rival, Succès Masra, resigned as prime minister after contesting election results that favored Deby Itno.
  • Deby Itno has vowed to prioritize agriculture, education and health care during his presidency.

Chad swore in Mahamat Deby Itno as the president on Thursday after holding elections earlier this month, completing a disputed transition to democratic rule after he seized power three years ago.

Deby Itno, also known as Mahamat Idriss Deby, took power after his father Idriss Deby Itno was killed fighting rebels in 2021 after ruling the country for three decades. The long-delayed May 6 election came after three years of military rule.

His main rival, Succès Masra, who contested the results earlier this month, resigned from his post as prime minister on Wednesday. Masra had been involved in protests against Deby Itno’s decision to extend his time in power, and fled the country in 2022. He was allowed to return last year and was appointed prime minister.

CHAD HOLDS LONG-AWAITED PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION SET TO END YEARS OF MILITARY RULE

Masra, who claimed to have won the election, filed an appeal to challenge the preliminary results which showed Deby Itno had won, but it was dismissed. The oil-exporting country of nearly 18 million people hasn’t had a democratic transfer of power since it became independent in 1960, after decades of French colonial rule.

Mahamat Deby Itno

Chadian President Mahamat Deby Itno participates in his inauguration ceremony in N'djamena, Chad, on May 23, 2024. Chad swore in Deby Itno as the president on Thursday after holding elections earlier this month, completing a disputed transition to democratic rule after he seized power three years ago. (AP Photo/Mouta Ali)

In his first presidential address, Deby Itno said his government would focus on boosting Chad's agricultural and farming sectors, and investing in education, access to water and health care.

"I’ve heard your yearning for change, and I’ve understood you. Let’s all play our part, individually and collectively, to bring about the change we all hope, desire and expect," he said.

Western leaders congratulated Deby Itno despite irregularities in the vote, which included Chad's decision to ban 2,900 EU-trained observers from monitoring the election.

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Chad is seen by the U.S. and France as one of the last remaining stable allies in the vast Sahel region following military coups in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger in recent years. The ruling juntas in all three nations have expelled French forces and turned to Russia’s mercenary units for security assistance instead.

"Although there were troubling shortcomings, we welcome the milestones in Chad’s transition process," the U.S. State Department said last week.

The British government also said the election marked an important milestone in the return to civilian rule. "The UK commends the engagement of the Chadian people and welcomes the largely peaceful way in which the elections and campaign were conducted," it said in a statement.

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