Idriss Derby wins fifth term as Chadian president

Chad’s incumbent president, Idriss Deby, has won a fifth term in office in a lopsided first-round victory, the Central African country’s elections commission announced.

Deby, 63, who argued during the campaign that only his government was capable of ensuring security amid a rising wave of extremist violence, took 61.56 percent of the vote in the April 10 poll, easily avoiding a second-round runoff.

Opposition leader Saleh Kebzabo finished a distant second with 12.80 percent of the vote, followed by Laokein Kourayo Mbaiherem with 10.60 percent, according to the commission, which put turnout at 76.11 percent.

“We are happy to have been able to meet the challenge we set for ourselves – a first-round knockout. Now we need to work implementing our programme,” Deby’s campaign spokesman, Mahamat Hissein, said in an interview.

Deby, who gained power in 1990 at the head of an armed rebellion, abolished restrictions in 2004 on how many times the president can run for office.

But he has pledged to reintroduce term limits at a time when other African leaders have been trying to amend their constitutions in order to extend their rule, leading to violence in Burundi, Burkina Faso and Congo Republic.

Chad has one of the most capable armies in the region and Deby has played a key role in efforts backed by the West to combat neighbouring Nigeria’s Islamic State-affiliated Boko Haram fighters as well as al Qaeda militants.

A former French colony, Chad also hosts the headquarters of Paris’ 3,000-troop strong regional anti-militant operation, known as Barkhane.