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Chad Elections Boycotted

Reuters (4/28/11)

N'DJAMENA (Reuters) - Turnout for Chad's presidential poll was less than 51 percent, international election observers said on Wednesday, in a sign an opposition boycott was at least partially followed.

Incumbent President Idriss Deby, is set to win a fourth term after major opposition candidates in the petroleum-producing Central African state said Monday's vote lacked transparency and asked their supporters to stay home.

A low turnout due to the boycott call would cast doubt over Deby's legitimacy if he wins.

Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, head of the African Union election observer mission, told a news conference on Wednesday the turnout was lower than during the legislative polls on February 13, when 51 percent of registered voters cast their ballots.

Samuel Azu'u Fonkam, head of the central African election observers' mission, told the same conference that "the turnout rate was relatively low" compared with the legislative polls. Neither could give more detail.

Chadian minister for administration had said participation was at around 90 percent of total voters while the opposition said their boycott call had been heard and turnout was only about 15 to 20 percent.

Observers said despite some improvements from the Feb 13 legislative poll, a number of inadequacies were recorded including delays in opening polling stations, visible presence of police officers, sometimes too close to the voting booth which did not always guarantee ballot secrecy.

Chad is among the world's poorest and most isolated countries and its government has struggled against years of rebellion in the east, where analysts say fighters were until recently backed by neighbouring Sudan.

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