Citizens of the African nation of Chad voted in favor of a new constitution on Sunday, which critics say could help consolidate the power of junta leader Mahamat Idriss Deby.
Reuters reported that 64 percent of voters took part in the referendum earlier this month, which won approval from 86 percent of those voters.
The country’s military officials stressed the importance of the vote for next year’s elections, suggesting it could usher in a long-promised return to democratic rule.
Military authorities seized power in the country in 2021 after former president Idriss Deby was killed on the battlefield during a clash with rebels.
CHAD’S GOVERNMENT PREVENTS ATTEMPT TO DESTABILIZE THE COUNTRY, UNDERMINING THE CONSTITUTION
Under the new constitution, Chad will remain a unitary state, as it has been since it claimed independence. Some opponents called for the creation of a federal state, saying it would likely help spur development.
Many opposition groups also called for a boycott of the vote on the grounds that the junta had too much control over the referendum process.
Deby initially promised an 18-month transition to elections after his father’s death, but the government last year adopted resolutions to delay elections until 2024. The delay also allows Deby to run for president in an eventual vote.
MASS TRIAL BEGINNING FOR CHAD REBELS ACCUSED OF ASSASSINATING THE PRESIDENT
Earlier this year, Chad’s government thwarted an attempt to destabilize the country and undermine the constitution.
In the attempt, 11 people, including soldiers and human rights activists were arrested and taken to the high court in the capital, N’Djamena.
Government spokesman Aziz Mahamat Saleh said a judicial investigation had been launched against the 11 people for subverting the constitutional order, criminal association, illegal possession of firearms and complicity.
CHAD PRESIDENT DEBBY ITNO DIES IN FIGHT AGAINST REBELS, MILITARY SAYS
Mahamat Idris Deby was declared head of state after his father’s death in April 2021, rather than following the line of succession under the Chadian Constitution. Opposition political parties at the time called the handover a coup, but later agreed to accept Deby as interim leader for 18 months.
In October 2022, Chadian security forces opened fire on anti-government protesters in the country’s two largest cities, killing at least 60 people.
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The men’s arrest was an attempt to silence dissenting voices, analysts say.
Reuters contributed to this report.