Deby wins sixth term as president, provisional election results show, as army says it beat back a column of insurgents advancing on capital N'Djamena.

Idriss Deby, 68, takes 79.3 percent of the vote from the April 11 election.
Idriss Deby, 68, takes 79.3 percent of the vote from the April 11 election. (Reuters)

Chad's long-ruling President Idriss Deby has been re-elected to his sixth term with 79.32 percent of the votes cast in April 11 election, according to provisional results from the electoral commission.

Former prime minister Albert Pahimi Padacke received just 10.32 percent in the presidential vote, while turnout was 64.81 percent, Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) chairman Kodi Mahamat Bam said on Monday. 

Deby, 68, was the first to cast his ballot at a polling station in the capital N'Djamena last week. 

He is one of Africa's longest-serving leaders and an ally of Western powers in the fight against militants in West and Central Africa.

"I'm calling on all Chadians to come out and vote for the candidate of their choice who will have to tackle the major challenges facing our country over the next six years," Deby told journalists after voting.

Deby seized power in 1990 in an armed rebellion, and in 2018 pushed through a new constitution that could let him stay in power until 2033 – even as it reinstated term limits.

READ MORE: Chad seeks global support to tackle militancy in Sahel

He has relied on a firm grip over state institutions and one of the region's most capable militaries to maintain power. 

Deby said recently he knew in advance that he would win again "as I have done for the last 30 years".

Several leading opponents boycotted the race, including the 2016 runner-up Saleh Kebzabo, who has vowed to make Chad "ungovernable" if Deby wins.

Chad has come under increasing public pressure over a flagging economy as low prices for its main export, oil, in recent years forced cutbacks in public spending and sparked labour strikes.

READ MORE: Deadly farmer-herder clashes flare up in Chad again

Insurgencies and public discontent

Deby has faced repeated insurgencies in the desert north and is also dealing with mounting public discontent over his management of oil wealth and crackdowns on opponents.

The rebel group Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT), which is based across the northern frontier with Libya, made inroads south after attacking a border post on election day and calling for an end to Deby's presidency.

But it appeared to suffer a sharp setback over the weekend. 

Chad's military spokesman Azem Bermendao Agouna told Reuters news agency that army troops had killed more than 300 insurgents and captured 150 on Saturday in Kanem province, around 300 km from N'Djamena. 

Five government soldiers were killed and 36 were injured, he said.

'Strategic retreat'

Reuters was not able to independently verify the tallies of casualties or reach the insurgents. The rebels' leader, Mahamat Mahadi Ali, told Radio France Internationale (RFI) on Monday that his forces had made "a strategic retreat".

Chadian state television on Sunday showed images of burnt vehicles and a small number of corpses dusted with sand. A crowd of soldiers cheered next to what state television said was dozens of captured rebel fighters, who sat with their hands tied behind their backs.

The unrest has raised alarm bells among Western countries which have seen Deby as an ally in the fight against extremist groups, including Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin and groups linked to al Qaeda and Daesh in the Sahel.

The United States ordered all of its non-essential embassy staff to leave the country on Saturday. The British government had urged its citizens to leave the previous day.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies