Chad voted in a presidential election on Sunday with incumbent Idriss Deby running for a fifth term in office, arguing that only his government can maintain stability in the face of a threat from Islamist militants. Boko Haram has staged a series of attacks in Chad in the past year as part of a campaign to expand its Islamist insurgency from bases in northeastern Nigeria into neighboring countries. 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 the group, which is linked to Islamic State, as well as other militants linked to al Qaeda. “I call on Chadians to vote in calm and serenity. Our country is starting from a long way back but the future looks bright. I ask all politicians to respect the verdict of the ballot box,” Deby told journalists as he voted.
Witnesses said thousands of voters cast their ballots at polling stations in the capital in the first election the central African country has held using biometric data.
“We came to vote for the president to guarantee peace in our country. Around us in the neighboring countries there are too many problems,” said civil servant Fatima Zara.
Polling stations closed at 6 p.m. (1700 GMT) and vote counting began, watched in some places by small crowds. Results are not expected for two weeks, according to a timetable set out by the electoral commission.