N’Djamena, Dec 29 (EFE). – Chad’s interim president, Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno, on Friday ratified the country’s new constitution, presented as a key step in the return to civilian rule.
The text was supported by 85.9% of voters in the Dec. 17 referendum, with only 14.10% voting “no,” according to results confirmed by the Constitutional Court on Thursday.
“The promulgation of the new constitution by the head of state paves the way for legislative elections and thus consecrates the return to constitutional order,” the presidency said in a statement.
The Chadian president signed the decree approving the constitution in a “solemn ceremony” in N’Djamena attended by Prime Minister Saleh Kebzabo, members of the government and “close associates” of the head of state, the statement added.
“It is an important milestone in the history of the nation. It is the fruit of a democratic and inclusive process that embodies the hope of enlightened governance based on the aspirations of the Chadian people,” the presidency stressed.
The new Magna Carta, which some consider not so different form the one in place since 1960, establishes a unitary but decentralized state, which still concentrates most power in the hands of the head of state.
However, the new text did introduce changes such as the election of governors by ballot, instead of hand-picked appointment, Chadian researcher Remadji Hoinathy told EFE.
In favor of the text are the Chadian leader and a coalition of about 120 political parties, including opposition leader, Succès Masra, who returned to Chad in early November after a year of exile through an agreement promoted by the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Félix Tshisekedi.
On the other hand, some forty political groups oppose the project and believe that Chad should adopt a federal structure.
“After sixty years of a unitary state, the weaknesses are obvious. The unitary state has not contributed to achieving national unity and creating the conditions for sustainable development and prosperity in the country,” political scientist Gilbert Maoundonodji explained to EFE in N’Djamena.
For some members of the opposition and civil society, the plebiscite was designed to pave the way for the election of the interim president, General Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno.
The Supreme Court rejected an appeal by the Bloc Fédéral, an opposition coalition, which had called for the results to be annulled because of several irregularities in the voting process.
Max Kemkoye, president of the Consultative Group of Political Actors (GCAP), from the opposition, denounced “a second coup détat by Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno” in the face of results that he said lacked credibility.
Since the death of former President Idriss Déby in fighting between rebel groups and the army in April 2021, Chad has been led by his 39-year-old son, Mahamat Déby, at the head of a 15 general military junta that suspended the constitution and dissolved the government and parliament.
The young general promised elections after an 18-month transition period and promised the African Union that he would not run.
However, eighteen months later, his regime extended the transition by two years and allowed him to run in presidential elections scheduled for late 2024.
Between August and October 2022, the country held a national dialog to agree on the basis for a return to constitutional order, which was heavily criticized and boycotted by the opposition and rebel groups.
It was agreed that there would be a two-year extension of the transition period from Oct. 20 last year and that Déby Itno would be interim president.
This led to protests in which at least fifty people died, according to official figures, although opposition and NGO figures put the number in the hundreds.
In his inauguration speech in October 2022, Déby Itno announced the formation of a “government of national unity” and promised a constitutional referendum and elections at the end of the transition for a “return to constitutional order”. EFE