Chad elections delayed

2010-09-26 21:28

N'djamena - Chad's national election commission on Saturday pushed back its electoral calendar, delaying parliamentary and local elections to 2011 due to difficulties with preparations.

"Legislative elections are planned for February 20, local elections will take place on March 27 and the first round of the presidential election on May 8, 2011," said National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI).

Legislative elections in the central African country had been due at the end of November and local elections in December, with the presidential vote scheduled for April 2011.

A delay was widely expected following a meeting on September 14 between representatives of CENI, the government and political parties of all stripes.

There, it was agreed that there was too little time to prepare properly for the elections.

The early election dates "were almost impossible, given the constraints encountered throughout the (electoral) process" CENI President Ngarmadjal Gami told journalists.

Obvious manipulation

He cited delays in holding voter registration, in receiving equipment and the lack of staff to prepare voting lists, but said there was enough time to complete preparations by the new election dates.

Chad's main opposition coalition, the CPDC, threatened last month not to participate in the elections, accusing President Idriss Deby Itno's government of failing to meet democractic pledges.

The CPDC criticised the government's monopolisation of the state media and "the interference of officials at all levels in the electoral process on the one hand, and the overuse of means and assets of the state for electioneering."

The CPDC, which groups 20 parties including four in parliament, also highlighted "obvious manipulation" in the electoral commission.

Since Deby seized power in a 1990 coup, the results of Chad's elections have been consistently disputed by opposition parties and civil organisations.

The deal in 2007 between the CPDC and Deby's Patriotic Salvation Movement, which dominates parliament, was aimed at promoting stability in a country that has long been plagued by political violence.