Ex-junta Chief Itno Sworn in as Chad’s Elected President

Fri May 24 2024
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N’DJAMENA, Chad: General Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, who has led Chad’s military junta for three years, was sworn in as president of the African country on Thursday after an election victory contested by the opposition.

Deby officially won 61 percent of the May 6 vote, which international NGOs said was neither credible nor free and which his main rival called a “masquerade.”

Taking the oath, Deby said he swore “before the Chadian people … to fulfill the high functions entrusted to us by the nation.”

Eight African heads of state, members of the Constitutional Council and hundreds of guests watched as the 40-year-old, dressed in his usual white boubou, was inaugurated as president at the Palace of Arts and Culture in the capital, N’Djamena.

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

Earlier, in a speech, Itno declared a “return to constitutional order” and pledged to be “a president of Chad from all backgrounds and all sensibilities.”

Deby was declared interim president in April 2021 by a junta of 15 generals after his father, President Idriss Deby Itno, was shot dead by rebels after 30 years in power.

The swearing-in brings an end to three years of military rule in a country crucial to the fight against jihadism in Africa’s restive Sahel region.

In 2021, Deby was quickly sanctioned by the international community, led by France, whose forces have been pushed out by military regimes in its other former colonies of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger in recent years.

The investiture ceremony also formalizes what the opposition denounced as the Deby dynasty.

Allamaye Halina, the former ambassador to China, was named prime minister in a presidential decree read out on public television on Thursday.

His predecessor Succes Masra, one of Deby’s fiercest opponents before he became prime minister, tendered his resignation on Wednesday following his party’s electoral defeat after just four months in office.

Masra, an economist who won 18.5 percent of the vote, disputed the results and did not attend the inauguration.

He claimed victory after the first round of elections, but faced accusations that he was a puppet of the junta from the opposition, which had been violently suppressed in Chad and its top members could not participate in the election.

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