Chad postpones long-delayed legislative vote over virus

Chad’s repeatedly delayed legislative elections set for December this year have been postponed again owing to the new coronavirus pandemic, the election commission said Tuesday without giving a new date.

The scheduled vote has been delayed five times since 2015 — a situation blamed by President Idriss Deby Itno on a lack of funds in one of the world’s most impoverished states, and the threat posed by Nigerian jihadists Boko Haram.

The current National Assembly dominated by allies of Deby was elected in 2011 for a four-year term.

“The legislative elections of December 13, 2020 cannot take place,” the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), Kodi Mahamat Bam, told AFP.

“The coronavirus epidemic has delayed the voter registration process,” he said, adding it would be impossible to update the register during the rainy season between July and September because of poor road conditions.

Bam said he could not give a new date for the elections as that would involve discussions with the ruling party and opposition figures.

Chad’s presidential election is to be held in April 2021 though Deby, who came to power by force in 1990, has not yet announced whether he will run for a sixth term. 

Chad is facing jihadist attacks in the southwest of the country, but also fighting over farmland in the east. 

The north of the country, bordering Libya, is a lawless area where illegal gold miners, traffickers and rebels operate. 

Despite large oil resources, one in two Chadians lives below the poverty line and health emergencies are frequent because of the almost non-existent hospital infrastructure.

According to the most recent tally made public on Monday, the country officially counted 839 cases of the new coronavirus, including 70 deaths.