Opposition denounce presidential poll

Opposition parties that boycotted last week’s presidential election in Chad said that they will not recognise the victor regardless of who wins in the final tally.

Polling went ahead across Chad on 3 May despite international and opposition pressure for a delay, after rebels threatened to repeat attacks on the capital N’djamena in a bid to disrupt voting.

Incumbent President Idriss Deby, who last year changed Chad’s constitution two-term limit, is favoured to win the ballot with three government stalwarts and a minor opposition figure the only challengers for the top job.

“We will not take part in this game,” said Ibni Oumar Mahamat Saleh, a spokesman for an umbrella group of opposition parties that boycotted the poll, on Saturday.

Power has never changed hands through the ballot box in Chad, and previous elections which returned Deby to power in 1996 and 2001 were denounced as fraudulent by opposition leaders.

Voting urns still have to be brought in from nearly 12,000 polling stations scattered across Chad’s vast desert territories, three times the size of France.

Rebels attempted to oust Deby in a sweeping east to west sprint on N’djamena last month that left hundreds dead.

Deby has accused neighbouring Sudan of backing the rebels, but Khartoum has denied the allegations.

N’djamena residents told IRIN they remained fearful of a further attack on election day, and normally bustling streets of the dusty capital were quiet as polling stations opened.

Opposition parties estimate that less than 2 percent of voters turned out to cast their ballot, although the government-appointed head of the national electoral commission has estimated that turn out was nearer 60 percent.

Some 5.8 million Chadians were registered to vote in Wednesday’s ballot. Official results are not expected until 14 May.