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Chad's opposition candidate Albert Padacke kicks off campaign

Chad presidential candidate Albert Pahimi Padacke   -  
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Chad

A candidate in the presidential election of April 11 in Chad, Albert Pahimi Padacké promised Friday, if he wins, the outgoing Idriss Déby Itno, almost assured of being re-elected, would continue to "live in his country" in peace.

Mr. Pahimi Padacké, Prime Minister from 2016 until 2018, when Mr. Déby had the post abolished to concentrate in his hands all executive power, was addressing his supporters in the large stadium Idriss Mahamat Ouya of N'Djamena, half empty, reported a journalist from AFP. Five days earlier, the outgoing president had packed the stadium, according to the same source.

Faced with a fragmented and muzzled opposition in the street, Mr. Déby is, according to political analysts and local and foreign observers, assured of winning a sixth term in this central African country that he leads with an iron fist since a coup in 1990.

For months, his government has banned all opposition demonstrations and the police and military have violently dispersed any attempt at a rally.

Sixteen people had expressed their intention to run against him. The most critical opponents of the regime have all dropped out: seven candidates have been invalidated by the Supreme Court and four other candidates have announced their withdrawal in the face of "violence" by the security forces and the "militarisation" of the election campaign.

Even if the Supreme Court has maintained the candidacy of these four against their will, there are only five candidates opposed to Mr. Déby, which the opposition and political scientists say are either close to the power or instrumentalized to give a democratic and pluralist veneer to the election.

Mr. Pahimi Padacké, who presents himself as "independent" of the government and the opposition calling for the departure of the president, assured that "on April 11, Marshal Déby will be defeated", under the cheers of hundreds of young militants of his party.

However, he "will be able to live in his country with all legal guarantees", promised the candidate, who was defeated by Mr. Déby in the 2006 and 2011 presidential elections. He added: "Idriss Déby has shown his courage on all fronts, I am a witness to this. He lacks only one courage, that of accepting a peaceful transfer of power.

He also criticised the opposition parties that call for "peaceful marches" for "alternation of power", all of which are banned and violently repressed: "What is the point of these marches if they end in hushed salons (...) we must go and challenge President Déby in the ballot box".

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