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Chad has held regular presidential elections since 1996, but no election has ever produced a change in power. Legislative elections are routinely delayed, and opposition leaders risk arrest and severe mistreatment while in detention. The state typically represses antigovernment protests.
- In February, a video of an opposition leader’s teenage daughter being gang-raped by attackers that included the sons of Chadian officials sparked a public outcry among ordinary citizens frustrated with impunity and violence against women.
- Incumbent president Idriss Déby Itno won April’s presidential election with just under 60 percent of the vote, and was sworn in to his fifth term. There were reports that several members of the military disappeared after the election, allegedly for voting against Déby.
- Opposition figures rejected the election’s results and convened antigovernment demonstrations, which were repressed and saw their organizers arrested.
- In the fall, the government sought to address its increasingly poor fiscal situation by reducing public-sector salaries and eliminating scholarships for students, resulting in strikes and demonstrations throughout the country. In response, authorities repressed or banned some such actions and Déby threatened to dissolve public sector unions.
Incumbent president Déby won April’s presidential election with just under 60 percent of the vote, defeating opposition leader Saleh Kebzabo, who took 13 percent. The opposition rejected the result, citing a variety of electoral irregularities and other incidents, including reports that members of the military who voted against Déby had subsequently disappeared. The Constitutional Court upheld the election’s result in May, though the opposition continued to reject it. Antigovernment protests were repressed and demonstration leaders arrested on several occasions during the year. Separately, parliamentary elections set for 2015 had not been held by year’s end.
Two months of social protest and turmoil preceded Déby’s reelection. The protests, aimed at drawing attention to impunity for members of the ruling party and violence against women, were triggered by the emergence of a video on social media of an opposition leader’s teenage daughter being gang-raped by assailants that included the sons of high-level Chadian officials; while officials during the year dispersed opposition-led protests, the demonstrations that came in response to the video were largely permitted. Seven accused rapists were later arrested, tried, and convicted by the courts, though two of the convicts escaped from prison.
Due to a fiscal crisis brought on by plummeting oil prices and, presumably, state corruption, the state in 2016 adopted severe austerity measures to address budgetary constraints; these included significant cuts to public-sector salaries and benefits, and the elimination of state-funded stipends for students. The actions increased the already tense sociopolitical situation and resulted in student and public-sector strikes and demonstrations, and opposition criticism over a lack of transparency in the government’s budget. At times these activities were met with repression and violence by the regime, and on instances the government forbid union and other organizations from holding public protests.
The strikes placed additional burdens on the country’s already struggling economy, and in December, Déby threatened to dissolve public sector unions completely. The budgetary crisis, accompanying austerity measures, and subsequent student strikes also severely disrupted the operations of schools and universities in Chad.
This country report has been abridged for Freedom in the World 2017. For background information on political rights and civil liberties in Chad, see Freedom in the World 2016.