Chad’s main opposition group said on Sunday (1 April 2018) it had rejected the conclusions of the central African state’s forum on constitutional change and reforms to the presidency.
The political, religious and social group members of the Forum proposed to increase presidential tenure from five to six years, with a maximum of two terms rather than the current mandate of five years with no limits on re-election.
But the opposition, which boycotted the forum, said in a statement to AFP it found the proposals “ridiculous and fantastical.”
“The political parties, members of the New Opposition Front for Change (FONAC), condemns and rejects all the disgusting, ridiculous and fantastical resolutions” of the forum which met over the last fortnight.
FONAC, created in 2016, groups some 30 opposition parties.
More than 700 pro-government figures in political parties and religious and social groups attended the forum launched on March 19 by Chadian President Idriss Deby – currently serving his fifth term due to end in 2021 – who declared that it would “lead to the birth of the Fourth Republic.”
The opposition refused to take part, describing the proposed changes as a ploy to keep Deby, 65, in power.
Another proposal endorsed by the forum would increase the tenure of lawmakers from four to five years.
Deby, named in a US corruption probe, has promised that elections on hold since 2015 will take place this year.
But FONAC says the reforms are not enough to deal with the “serious crises” the country faces which are “a thousand times more urgent and important” than the forum.
A Western ally in combating jihadism in the volatile Sahara region, cash-strapped and poverty-stricken Chad has endured two years of severe recession worsened by a slump in oil prices.
The state is imposing cuts in public spending that the finance ministry says are vital to stave off bankruptcy, fanning discontent in a country where almost half the population of 14 million lives below the poverty line, according to the World Bank.
On Friday, former presidential candidate Saleh Kebzabo, who lost out to Deby in 2016, said the reforms would simply prop up the incumbent, who has ruled since 1990.