HomeFOREIGNMahamat Idriss Deby Itno Sworn in as Chad's President Amid Controversy

Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno Sworn in as Chad’s President Amid Controversy

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Afor Kenneth

General Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, who has led Chad’s military junta for three years, was inaugurated as president on Thursday following an election victory that was heavily contested by the opposition.

Deby officially claimed 61 percent of the vote on May 6, a result criticized by international NGOs as neither credible nor free, and dismissed by his main rival as a “masquerade.”

During his swearing-in ceremony, Deby pledged to fulfill the duties entrusted to him by the Chadian people.

The inauguration took place at the Palace of Arts and Culture in N’Djamena, attended by eight African heads of state, members of the Constitutional Council, and numerous guests. Deby, 40, wore his traditional white boubou for the occasion.

The presidential term is set for five years and can be renewed once.

In an earlier speech, Deby had declared a “return to constitutional order” and pledged to serve as “the president of Chadians from all backgrounds and of all sensibilities.”

Deby assumed the role of transitional president in April 2021 following the death of his father, President Idriss Deby Itno, who ruled with an iron fist for 30 years until he was shot dead by rebels.

The swearing-in ceremony marks the conclusion of three years of military rule in Chad, a country crucial to the fight against jihadism across Africa’s volatile Sahel region.

In 2021, Deby received swift endorsement from the international community, particularly France, whose forces had been ousted by military regimes in its other former colonies of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger in recent years.

The investiture ceremony formalizes what the opposition has criticized as the establishment of a Deby dynasty.

Prime Minister Succes Masra, formerly one of Deby’s staunchest opponents, resigned on Wednesday following his party’s defeat in the elections after just four months in office. Masra contested the election results and did not attend the inauguration.

Deby’s cousin, Yaya Dillo Djerou, who emerged as a prominent opposition candidate, was killed during a military assault in February. His party claimed he was shot at point-blank range.

The attendance of heads of state at the investiture served as an indicator of international support for the president, with eight African leaders present. French President Emmanuel Macron, who visited N’Djamena in 2021 to pay tribute to Marshal Deby in front of his son and successor, sent his minister for foreign trade and Francophonie, Franck Riester, to the ceremony.

Chad, one of the world’s poorest nations, hosts 1,000 French soldiers and serves as France’s last military foothold in the Sahel region. Macron was among the few leaders to publicly congratulate Deby on his election.

Some Sahel nations, grappling with jihadist insurgencies, have strengthened ties with Russia after cutting them with Paris. Russian President Vladimir Putin was among the first to congratulate Deby.

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