Chad parliament approves new constitution expanding president’s powers

Idriss Déby has been President of Chad since 1990. (Reuters pic)

N’DJAMENA: Chad’s parliament on Monday overwhelmingly approved a new constitution that expands President Idriss Déby’s powers and could allow him to stay in office until 2033 in a vote boycotted by most opposition lawmakers.

The new constitution reimposes a two-term limit scrapped in a 2005 referendum, but it will not be applied retroactively, meaning Déby could serve two terms after the next election in 2021.

The constitution now heads to Déby for his signature.

Déby’s opponents say that the constitution, which eliminates the post of prime minister and creates a fully presidential system, is aimed at installing a de facto monarchy in Chad, an ally of Western nations fighting jihadist groups in West Africa.

The new constitution, approved by a vote of 132 to two, introduces six-year rather than five-year presidential terms. That would mean Déby could stay in power until 2033, when he will be at least 80.

Déby first came to power in a rebellion in 1990. He has recently faced strikes and protests due to budget shortfalls caused by low prices for Chad’s chief export, oil.