N’DJAMENA, Chad (AP) — Chad’s constitutional council confirmed Thursday that President Mahamat Deby Itno, who seized power in 2021, was elected president in the May 6 vote and rejected an appeal by his main opponent.

Deby Itno, also known as Mahamat Idriss Deby, seized power after his father, who spent three decades in power, was killed fighting rebels in 2021. The long-delayed election came after three years of military rule. Analysts had widely expected him to win.

The final results from the election showed that Deby Itno won with 61% of the vote, while the leading opposition candidate and head of the transitional government, Prime Minister Succès Masra, lagged far behind with an 18.5% share. The council’s announcement confirmed provisional results released earlier this week.

The decision dealt a blow to Masra, who had filed an appeal with the council challenging the preliminary results which showed Deby Itno had won.

The oil-exporting country of nearly 18 million people hasn’t had a democratic transfer of power since it became independent in 1960, after decades of French colonial rule.

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