In Chad, Deby’s Fate Is Uncertain. Democracy’s Is Sealed

In Chad, Deby’s Fate Is Uncertain. Democracy’s Is Sealed
Chadian leader Gen. Mahamat Idriss Deby meets with French President Emmanuel Macron, at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, Nov. 12, 2021 (Sipa photo by Isa Harsin via AP Images).

Chad’s leader, Gen. Mahamat Idriss Deby, is currently overseeing a complex political transition that is supposed to culminate in elections planned for next year. To do so, he has successfully coopted most of the country’s many armed groups and part of the political opposition. Combined with French commitments to protect him from armed overthrow, this has brought a measure of security to his regime.

Nonetheless, Deby faces significant longer-term challenges to his rule. Armed opposition persists, largely in the form of rebel groups based in Libya and the Central African Republic. The regime faces potentially serious internal fault lines, both among members of Deby’s immediate family and within the ruling clique’s narrow political and ethnic base. The Sudanese civil war and especially its dynamics in neighboring Darfur threaten to exacerbate these tensions, even as eastern Chad is already suffering a major humanitarian crisis due to the influx of refugees from the Sudanese conflict, adding a further threat to stability.

If he can navigate these challenges, Deby is almost certain to win the planned October 2024 presidential election, thus “civilianizing” his rule and returning it to a formally constitutional regime that benefits from full regional and international legitimacy. In the meantime, the day-to-day mechanics of repression and governance will remain intact.

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