Idriss Deby PHOTO:AFP
The central African state of Chad is on course for reforms to the presidency after a forum on constitutional change that was boycotted by the opposition.
The meeting, which ended late Tuesday, increases the presidential tenure from five to six years, with a maximum of two terms.
The current mandate is five years with no limits on re-election.
The forum was attended by more than 700 pro-government figures in political parties and religious and social groups.
It was launched on March 19 by Chadian President Idriss Deby — currently serving his fifth term — 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 the 65-year-old Deby in power.
Another proposal endorsed by the forum will increase the tenure of lawmakers from four to five years.
Deby has promised that elections that have been on hold since 2015 will take place this year.
In other changes, a “Higher Council” of regional representatives, some appointed and others elected, will take the role of the Senate. The country’s administrative structure will also change, to comprise 17 “provinces” as opposed to the existing 23 “regions”.
A Western ally in combating jihadism in the volatile Sahara region, 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.
Deby has been named in a corruption probe in the United States.