Chad: Debate Over Proposed Constitutional Changes

RFI (French) published a story yesterday headlined, “In Chad, a Plan for Modifying the Constitution worries the opposition.” The ruling Patriotic Salvation Movement (MPS) introduced the plan in a special session of the national assembly. RFI mentioned two key proposals included in the plan. One would change Article 71 of the constitution (.pdf, French), which states, “The functions/duties of the President of the Republic are incompatible with the exercise of any other elective mandate, any public employment, and any other profitable, professional activity. They are also incompatible with all activity within a party or group of political parties or a trade union organization.” MPS argues that it is incoherent to have the president elected on a party’s platform but then unable to participate in party activities.

The second major change would end the permanent tenure for Supreme Court judges. This plank seems to be the larger concern for the opposition. MPS leaders argue that permanent tenure is meant to ensure judicial independence, but that other parts of the constitution guarantee judges their independence, obviating the need for permanent tenure. Opponents of the change argue that eliminating permanent tenure would expose judges, even more, to political pressure. This political struggle will be worth following.