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Chadian Voters Approve Constitutional Changes Amidst Controversy

In a move laden with implications for Chad’s political landscape, citizens have given their nod to a new constitution, as declared by the military rulers steering the trajectory of this Central African nation. According to preliminary results, a substantial 86% of votes favored the proposed constitutional amendments, consolidating more authority around the head of state. Limane Mahamat, the president of the national commission overseeing the referendum, made this announcement in a televised statement on Sunday, revealing a 64% voter turnout.

The approval of these constitutional changes is purportedly designed to set the stage for upcoming elections and a transition back to civilian rule. However, the process has not been without its share of controversy. The opposition vehemently called for a boycott of the referendum, strategically aiming to diminish voter participation and thereby challenge the legitimacy of Interim President Mahamat Deby.

Critics argue that the constitutional amendments, concentrating power around the head of state, may not be conducive to a genuine democratic transition. There are suspicions that Mahamat Deby, serving in an interim capacity since April 2021 following the death of his father, Idriss Deby, is utilizing these changes to prolong his family’s enduring rule over Chad—an era spanning more than three decades.

The death of Idriss Deby, who was killed by rebels, marked a pivotal moment in Chad’s political landscape. Mahamat Deby, at the age of 39, assumed the interim leadership role appointed by the army. Initially slated for elections 18 months after Mahamat Deby’s ascendancy, presidential polls are now scheduled for October 2024. This extended timeline has raised concerns among critics who perceive it as a potential strategy to delay the return to full-fledged democracy. As Chad navigates this intricate juncture, the political dynamics and the unfolding narrative continue to draw national and international attention.