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Chad’s constitutional court this week barred 10 candidates, including three principal opponents of the governing junta, from May’s presidential election, a vote that aims to bring about the return of democratic rule three years after the military seized control of the Sahel nation, Radio France Internationale reported.

The top court rejected the applications of the candidates, including opposition politicians Nassour Ibrahim Neguy Koursami and Rakhis Ahmat Saleh, because of “irregularities” in their paperwork.

However, 10 other candidates will contest the May 8 elections, including current leader Mahamat Idriss Deby and his Prime Minister Succes Masra.

Military generals proclaimed Deby as Chad’s interim president in 2021 shortly after the violent death of his father Idriss Deby Itno, who had ruled the country for more than 30 years.

Masra, a former opposition leader, signed a reconciliation deal with the Deby government earlier this year.

The May vote is part of a transition to return Chad to democracy after the junta took power in 2021 – one of the numerous military governments currently in power in West and Central Africa, according to Al Jazeera.

Deby initially promised to hold elections 18 months after seizing power, but the junta later passed a series of resolutions that delayed the polls until 2021 and allowed him to run for president.

The delay sparked protests in the country that were brutally squashed by security forces.

Before the court’s decision, the opposition criticized the upcoming vote as a “charade” and urged its supporters to boycott it. They alleged that Deby is guaranteed to win and that Masra’s participation is a ploy to make the polls appear fair and free.

The barring of opposition candidates comes a month after the death of prominent opposition leader Yaya Dillo.

Dillo, who was expected to challenge Deby, was killed last month when Chadian soldiers stormed his party’s headquarters in the capital.

Authorities alleged that the opposition leader died during a shootout when security forces were trying to apprehend a member of Dillo’s party.

But Dillo’s supporters accused authorities of executing him, claiming that photographs of his corpse show a single shot to the head.

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