Three Chad candidates quit election race as tension mounts

N’Djamena, March 4 (AFP/APP):Three opposition candidates in Chad on Thursday quit the race for the presidency amid renewed accusations of a security clampdown ahead of the April 11 ballot.
Their pullout leaves half a dozen candidates, including incumbent Idriss Deby Itno, who has ruled for 30 years and is widely deemed a shoo-in for a sixth term.
Theophile Bongoro Bebzoune, a political newcomer who had been designated joint candidate by a group of opposition parties called Victory Alliance, told AFP the coalition “has decided to withdraw my candidacy.” He did not give details.
Two other opposition figures, Mahamat Yosko Brahim, and Ngarlejy Yorongar, a former Deby ally, also said they were pulling out.
The climate “is not favourable for fair and transparent presidential elections,” said Brahim, while Yorongar said opposition parties had to battle “social injustice and insecurity.”
Their announcements came a day after their candidacies had been approved by the Supreme Court, which rejected seven other bids.
The same day, another authorised candidate, leading opposition figure Saleh Kebzabo, announced his withdrawal.
Kebzabo hit out at what he called the “clear militarisation of the political climate,” after police and troops raided the home of another contender, Yaya Dillo Djerou.
International rights groups, the UN and France have called for an inquiry into the shootings at Yaya Dillo’s house, in which his party said five of his family died.
The government has acknowledged the death of his mother and two soldiers.
Of the five candidates who are still in the race besides Deby, the most prominent is Felix Nialbee Romadoumngar.
He is officially the country’s “head of the opposition” as his party holds seats in parliament, which is dominated by Deby’s Patriotic Salvation Movement (MPS).

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