Chad's electoral commission says 86% of voters voted in favour of the new constitution (French)

The results of Chad's new constitution, which was presented to the people on December 17, were announced in the capital N'Djamena on Sunday evening.

The new constitution, which the Electoral Organizing Committee announced that 86% of voters voted in favor of it with a turnout of 64%, comes in very complex local and regional circumstances, where rebellions from within, the wave of coups in neighboring countries, and the Sudan war and the burdens it adds to the state of Chad.

Since Chad gained independence from France, there have been many charters and constitutions that are written with each new coup, or come to pave the way for military rulers to remain in power.

During the 60 years of independence, the country knew 8 constitutions, the first of which was the French Constitution of 1958, and then the Constitution of 1959, which was known as the Constitution of Independence.

In 1962, the country's third constitution was promulgated, which provided for a one-party system that single-handedly manages political affairs.

After a number of charters, decrees and exceptional provisions by which the country was run in the sixties and seventies of the last century, the Constitution of the Republic was issued on the tenth of February 1989.

The Déby era and the new constitution

When Idriss Déby ruled the country through a military coup in 1990, a constitutional referendum was held on 31 March 1996 marked by sweeping political reforms.

But after two terms, Déby organized a new constitutional referendum in 2005, also governing the country for a decade, and then in 2018 a new constitution strengthened the president's powers and abolished the government's responsibility to the prime minister.

After Déby was killed by rebels in April 2021, a transitional military council headed by his son Mohamed Déby was formed and issued a transitional charter under which a new constitution was written, submitted to a referendum on December 17, and the results of which were announced on Sunday evening.

The new constitution builds on the outcomes of the national dialogue organized in August 2022 and builds on the March 1996 constitution.

The new constitution included 13 chapters and 299 articles, and an expanded preamble that addressed new principles and values such as political, ethnic and religious tolerance.

He also called for the establishment and reorganization of political institutions such as the Constitutional Council, the Supreme Judicial Council, the Supreme Court, the Court of Accounts and the Military Court.

In statements to the international press, Sanusi Muhammad Ali, a member of the Constitution Drafting Committee, said that the new constitution is not much different from the 1991 constitution, because it established the status of the prime minister and made the government accountable to him, unlike the previous constitution, which stipulated that all powers are in the hands of the president.

One of the most prominent judicial reforms included in the new constitution is the transfer of the presidency of the Supreme Judicial Council to the President of the Supreme Court instead of the Head of State.

The military council headed by Déby Jr. announced a national dialogue ahead of the referendum on the constitution (French)

Opposition, the army, and succession

The new constitution has sparked a lot of controversy among political parties, as most opposition leaders and civil society organizations considered it contrary to what was agreed upon in the outcomes of the comprehensive national dialogue, which recommended that the people choose the form of government without pressure or interference.

However, the military council appointed a committee to draft the constitution without reference to political actors, including leaders of parties, unions and movements.

The government also carried out a major propaganda campaign in which it spent money and lobbied to vote in favor of the new constitution.

While opposition factions call for federalism to govern, the pro-junta camp asserts that centralization of the state is the best way to stability and not chaos.

Although the Transitional Military Council (TMC), headed by young General Mohamed Idriss Deby Itno, formed a committee to draft the constitution and oversaw the referendum process, the constitution stipulated that the security and armed forces were at the service of the state and had nothing to do with politics.

This means that the military council will end its role after the presidential elections. But the opposition believes the new constitution is designed to enshrine the succession of the presidency to Mohamed Idriss Deby, who took power immediately after his father was killed.

A number of opposition figures led by Yaya Dilou and other groups of military movements that did not sign the 2022 Doha peace agreement between the STC and a number of leaders of political movements and armed factions stand against the new constitution.

Article 68 of the new Constitution stipulates that military commanders have the right to run for presidential elections, provided they hold the post full-time.

The age for candidacy was also reduced from 40 to 35, amendments in favor of the young general, who was under the age of 40.

Since Chad's independence from France in 1958, it has not known civilian rule, but rather successive presidents, each of whom came to the presidency through the military, making the opposition's aspiration for civilian rule unattainable.

Political complexities and economic hardship

On the X platform, African affairs expert Idriss Ayat wrote that the new constitution "if imposed through a biased and non-inclusive process, would contribute to steering Chad's future towards negativity."

Ayat added that the controversy over the new constitution could exacerbate internal tensions and weaken the country's political stability.

It is noteworthy that Déby Jr. took power after his father was killed by rebels in 2021, and as soon as he came to power through a military council, it announced an 18-month transition period, but the transitional government extended it until late 2024, allowing him to run for president, which sparked many protests in the capital, N'Djamena, the stronghold of the Chadian opposition.

A number of people have been killed in the protests and the government has arrested more than a thousand people in order to suppress the protest against the authority of Mohamed Déby.

Central Africa's Chad is the world's second-least developed country, according to the United Nations.

7 million Chadians need humanitarian assistance, or 40 percent of the total population, and armed attacks in Lake Chad have displaced 215,<> people.

Chad is suffering from many crises and has recently received more than a million displaced people from Sudan due to the ongoing war there between the army and the Rapid Support Forces.

Chad is also one of the Sahel countries where armed movements are active, and is going through a wave of coups that changed the political map and brought new actors to the region.

Source : Al Jazeera