Twelve opposition parties in Chad say they will field a joint candidate against Idriss Deby Itno, who has been in power for 30 years, in upcoming presidential elections.
Deby is expected to be named by his Patriotic Salvation Movement (MPS) party on Saturday as its flag-bearer in the April 11 vote.
Leaders of 12 parties on Tuesday signed a deal creating an electoral coalition called Alliance Victoire (Victory Alliance).
Its manifesto sets down a joint approach for government, a code of conduct and “the criteria for appointing a single candidate on a transparent and consensual basis.”
Signatories include two prominent opposition figures — Saleh Kebzabo, the runner-up in the 2016 elections with 12.8 percent of the vote, and Mahamat Ahmat Alabo.
The manifesto says other opposition parties can join, although it does not set a date for when the single candidate will be named.
The alliance’s coordinator, Alladoumngar Tedengarti, said “the lesson has been learned” from 30 years of elections in which Deby has been able to cruise past a fragmented opposition.
Other leaders who have yet to join include Laokein Kourayo Medar, who placed third in 2016, and Succes Masra, whose campaign group, The Transformers, has joined with NGOs to announce protests to coincide with the MPS announcement.
The demonstrations, set to run daily from Thursday to Sunday, have been banned by the authorities on the grounds that they have “the potential to provoke public disorder”.
Deby, a 68-year-old former army chief, has been in power since December 1990, when he ousted the autocratic Hissene Habre.
He has been re-elected every five years since then, thanks to constitutional changes approved by a referendum in 2005 to remove limits on presidential terms.