Elections in Chad and Sahel Geopolitics

The results of the 2024 elections in Chad affect not only the country's domestic politics, but also the geopolitical balance in the Sahel region.
The role of the international community and regional actors will be decisive for the success of stabilization and democratization efforts in Chad.
Some Western major powers have reacted cautiously and optimistically, noting Chad's stability and security.


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The presidential elections held on May 6, 2024 in Chad, one of the important countries of Sahel geopolitics, are of international importance due to their impact on the country’s political stability and regional security. Mahamat Déby, the son of Chad’s late President Idriss Déby, emerged victorious from the elections, completing a three-year transition to civilian rule following the military coup in 2021. It must be recognized that the implications of this election extend beyond Chad and have important consequences for the overall stability and geopolitics of the Sahel region.

It is imperative to consider Chad’s political dynamics within the broader context of the Sahel region. This region has recently been characterized by successive military coups and political turmoil. Chad’s stability is crucial to ensuring regional security, particularly in countering extremist organizations and effectively addressing the influx of refugees from neighboring conflict zones.

Chad has a turbulent political history of coups, rebellions and authoritarian rule. Idriss Déby came to power in a military coup in 1990 and ruled the country for three decades until his death in 2021 during a conflict with rebel forces. Idriss Deby’s regime was characterized by a strong military presence, suppression of political opposition and alleged human rights abuses.

Following Idriss Déby’s death, his son Mahamat Déby took control as head of the Transitional Military Council (TMC). While this move was initially seen as a power consolidation strategy, concerns about the future of democratic governance in Chad have never ceased. The TMC promised a transition to civilian rule within 18 months, but this period was extended to three years, and after three years of military transition, Mahamat Deby became the new president with the approval of the country’s Constitutional Council in the elections held on May 6.[1]

The elections were held in an environment of political tension and security concerns. Representing the Patriotic Salvation Movement (MPS), the party founded by his father, Mahamat Déby faced many opposition candidates. The most important of these was his rival, Prime Minister Succes Masra. An economist educated at prestigious institutions such as Harvard and Oxford and leader of the Les Transformateurs party, Masra initially emerged as a formidable opposition figure. However, his appointment as prime minister in January 2024 sparked controversy and criticism from other opposition groups. This move was seen as Deby’s attempt to assimilate Masra and reduce its influence.

Given the MPS’s control over state apparatuses and resources, the political landscape during the electoral process was heavily tilted in favor of Déby. Indeed, Deby used the full power of the state apparatus to the fullest. Deby, who also holds the power to suppress protests and demonstrations, continues this policy against post-election objections and protests. The elections, which Mahamat Idriss Déby won with 61% of the vote, raised serious concerns that the elections were not fair and transparent. This has the potential to exacerbate existing political tensions in Chad and regional instability.

Masra immediately rejected these results, claiming that the government had rigged the elections and calling for peaceful demonstrations to give voice to the voters. The continued protests by opposition leader Succes Masra and his supporters, refusing to accept the election results, could increase political tensions within the country and set the stage for potential internal conflicts.

Despite the presence of opposition candidates, the electoral process has been and continues to be strongly criticized for lack of transparency and fairness. Reports of voter intimidation, suppression of the media and arrests of opposition figures cast a large shadow over the electoral process. International observers, including observers from the African Union and the European Union, have expressed concerns about the credibility of the elections, citing irregularities and the restrictive environment in which the elections were held.[2]

The election of Mahamat Déby means the continuation of the Déby administration in Chad and raises questions about the prospects for genuine democratic reform. The election results were also met with great and different reactions within the country. On the one hand, Déby’s supporters argue that his military background and experience are crucial to maintaining stability in a country plagued by insurgencies and regional conflicts, while his opponents see his presidency as a period of weakening democratic principles.

The outcome of the election will also have important implications for Chad’s security situation. Chad remains a key player in the fight against terrorism in the Sahel region, with the Chadian Army actively involved in operations against extremist groups operating in the region, such as Boko Haram and Al Qaeda in the Maghreb. Mahamat Déby’s leadership is expected to maintain Chad’s strong military engagement in regional security initiatives vital to the stability of the Sahel.

Chad stands out as one of the few countries in the Sahel region that has remained relatively stable. At this point, the possible instability in Chad could have an impact on the region. The conflicts in neighboring Sudan and the risk of their spillover into Chad are particularly worrying for regional security. Allegations that Chad supplied weapons to Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF) further strained diplomatic relations between Sudan and Chad.

The international community’s reaction to the elections is another noteworthy issue. Some Western major powers have reacted cautiously and optimistically, emphasizing Chad’s stability and security. Western countries, notably France and the United States of America (USA), have long had strategic interests in Chad due to its important role in counterterrorism efforts. However, shortly before the elections in Chad, the Deby administration announced a decision to close the US base in the country and for the troops to leave the country, just like the decision taken by the Niger government. Although the process is still ongoing, it is a fact that American influence in the region is diminishing. Therefore, it can be assumed that the US reaction to the election results will be directed towards the aforementioned decision of the Deby administration.

However, there is also intense pressure on the Deby administration for democratic reforms and respect for human rights. The European Union and various human rights organizations have called on Mahamat Déby to undertake political reforms, ensure inclusive governance and address the problems of corruption and human rights abuses that have plagued the country for decades. However, it is unlikely that these calls will find a positive response from the Deby administration, or if they do, that they will be taken seriously.

The recent elections in Chad actually mark a critical turning point in the country’s political trajectory. While the continuation of the Déby regime under Mahamat Déby gives the appearance of stability, the underlying issues of democratic governance and human rights remain unresolved. The role of the international community will be crucial in shaping Chad’s future, balancing the imperatives of security and democratic accountability. 

As a result, the way forward for Chad involves navigating these complex dynamics, addressing domestic political challenges and fulfilling regional security commitments. The success of this transition will ultimately depend on the willingness of the new administration to embrace inclusive governance and undertake the necessary reforms to build a more democratic and resilient state. The results of the 2024 elections in Chad affect not only the country’s domestic politics, but also the geopolitical balance in the Sahel region. In this process, the role of the international community and regional actors will be decisive for the success of stabilization and democratization efforts in Chad. Therefore, it is very important to closely monitor developments in Chad for the overall security and stability of the Sahel region.

[1] “Election présidentielle au Tchad : la victoire de Mahamat Idriss Déby validée par le Conseil constitutionnel”, Le Monde,, (Date of Access: 15.05.2024).

[2] “Chad criticized for failing to allow EU-funded election observers”, VOA Africa,, (Date of Access: 15.05.2024).

Göktuğ ÇALIŞKAN, who received his bachelor's degree in Political Science and Public Administration at Ankara Yıldırım Beyazıt University, also studied in the Department of International Relations at the Faculty of Political Sciences of the university as part of the double major program. In 2017, after completing his undergraduate degree, Çalışkan started his master's degree program in International Relations at Ankara Hacı Bayram Veli University and successfully completed this program in 2020. In 2018, she graduated from the Department of International Relations, where she studied within the scope of the double major program. Göktuğ Çalışkan, who won the 2017 YLSY program within the scope of the Ministry of National Education (MEB) scholarship and is currently studying language in France, is also a senior student at Erciyes University Faculty of Law. Within the scope of the YLSY program, Çalışkan is currently pursuing his second master's degree in the field of Governance and International Intelligence at the International University of Rabat in Morocco and has started his PhD in the Department of International Relations at Ankara Hacı Bayram Veli University. She is fluent in English and French.

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