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Chadians Remain Divided After Controversial Election


A day after a presidential vote in Chad, human rights activists, citing what they say were widespread irregularities, have charged the election was fraudulent. But supporters of incumbent President Idriss Deby say the election was fair and they are confident their candidate won.

The streets of N'Djamena remained largely abandoned throughout most of Wednesday's vote, a clear sign that many voters in the capital had stayed home.

However, the head of the national elections commission has said turnout for the presidential poll was higher than for a constitutional referendum last year that allowed President Deby to stand for a third term. Official participation in that vote was more than 70 percent, though the opposition also charged there were voting irregularities at that time.

Activists say there were many instances of fraud during Wednesday's election. They said their observers in the capital and across the country saw minors voting in many polling stations. They said in some cases voter cards were given out at the entrance to voting centers on election day. And they said many people were allowed to vote multiple times.

Opposition leaders have called the election a masquerade.

On Thursday, Chadian civil society activists renewed calls for dialogue between the government, the opposition and the rebels. Speaking to journalists in N'Djamena late Thursday, they said the election had not solved any of the country's problems. And if the lines of communication are not opened soon, they say the situation will get even worse.

The activists say they are calling on the international community to put in place a special working group to help find a solution to the crisis. And they want both the government and the rebels, who attacked the capital three weeks ago, to agree to a ceasefire.

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