Chad Pre-Election Assessment Report: Multi-Donor Support Program for the Electoral Process
On July 1994, the Prime Minister of Chad send a letter to the representatives of the international donor community requesting their assistance in order to install democratic institutions in Chad. This request was accepted on the condition of the creation of a National Independent Electoral Commission and the adoption of an electoral code. The donor community (France, Germany, USA, European Union, Switzerland, World Bank, UNDP, Canada and Holland) agreed on September 27, 1994 to finance an international mission of experts which had the mandate to identify the conditions in which a constitutional referendum and presidential and legislative elections could be held in a fair and democratic way and in a reasonable time frame. The mission was to start on October 17, 1994. The four experts were hired by United Nations, France and the United States. In addition, three experts from Chad were also hired for their political knowledge and technical expertise. When the international experts started their work in Chad on October 17, they discovered that neither the draft Constitution nor the Political Parties Charter, the voter registration was not in process, and the National Independent Electoral Commission was not in place.
Also, while in Chad, the experts witnessed a serious crisis between the transitional bodies governing the country. The Superior Council of the Transition (CST) under (he leadership of Lol Mahamat Choua reacted strongly against an administrative act (decret 238) adopted by the Presidency regarding the voter registration. This act gave the Minister of Interior the authority to conduct the registration. According to the President of the CST, the voters registration had to fall under the responsibility of the National Independent Electoral Commission. On October 13, 1994, after a vote to renew the National Superior Council management board, Lol Mahamat Choua was defeated by Mahamat Bachar Gadaye, member of the MPS and close to the Presidency. That was the end of this controversy.
The experts met with a considerable number of people (political parties, union, associations, transitional bodies, traditional and religious leaders) in order to see if there was a general consensus on the way the electoral process should be conducted in Chad. They found different opinions between, on one hand, the opposition and the civil society and on the other hand, the transitional bodies. The latter considered that the conditions an: good enough to hold the democratic process as scheduled. If the calendar is not yet put in place this is because the opposition is stalling the process because it is not ready to compete in the elections.
Meanwhile, the opposition requested as a prerequisite for its participation the creation of the National Independent Electoral Commission which would have the mandate to organize and supervise all the electoral operations including the voters registration.
At the conclusion of the mission, the experts made a number of recommendations including the following:
1) A truly National Independent Electoral Commission should be created with members who do not belong to any political party.
2) The donors community should nominate an international administrator to sit on the Commission.
3) The Electoral Commission should have the exclusive power to organize and supervise all the electoral operations, voters registration included. This would insure neutrality, transparency and ability to resolve contentious situations.
4) The electoral code should be simple, organic and concern itself only with the electoral process in the transitional period. It should detail all the steps of the electoral process, voting procedures included. The present electoral code still in draft is not prec.ise and gives too much latitude to , the arbitrary.
5) Taking into account that Chad is the fourth largest African country and it has a scattered population, it is recommended to set up one polling station per 500 voters. If a polling station operates during 10 hours/day, an average of 50 voters will cast their vote per hour. With about 3 million people eligible to vote, a minimum of six thousand polling stations would be required and a maximum of seven thousand. 6) The registration of the Chadians living abroad should be avoided because of logistic problems and lack of control.
The estimated budget for this effort is $ 7,232,000.