Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Biometrics in Chad: new technology and old recipes … – The Conversation FR

Since the early 2000s, biometric identification technologies represent a growing market in Africa. These technologies, which were initially developed by the multinational defense sector and security are regularly presented as a solution to limit electoral fraud. Holding the first “biometric” elections in Chad on 9 and 10 April last, shows that these new technologies, extremely expensive, raise hopes but does not radically alter the rules of the political game.

A list more reliable


for the first time in Chad, April 9 and 10, voters voted in having established voter cards with biometric data. This new technology had raised great hopes. Opponents also trade union and community activists were massively committed to the biometric census: in 2015, they had marched so in defense of the electoral biometrics at the traditional manifestation of the 1 st May

Its introduction had already been advocated in the agreement signed in 2007 by the government and the main opposition coalition under the aegis of the European Union. Eight years later, is a French company Morpho, a subsidiary of Safran, who won a market of over 22 million, after a research firm, also French, wrote the first study feasibility. Just over 6 million cards were manufactured in France before being sent to Chad.

The process has had its share of delays, blockages and controversy. Opponents including regretted that biometrics is not “complete”. First, because the distribution of voter cards had to do without biometric identification. The cards, however well arranged in alphabetical order in their boxes, were distributed in great disorder. However, this distribution has proved – in the end – relatively efficient, although it is not excluded that some cards have not found their rightful owner

Biometrics “incomplete”, then. because if we did ask the Chadians who wish to register as voters to submit their fingerprints, the vote itself was done with simple signing sheets. There was no technology in the polling stations, fingerprint again

The biometric registration of voters, however, allowed the establishment of a reliable electoral roll than previous. Each voter or voter could be registered only once. A quick comparison of the electoral lists of 2011 and 2016 also makes it possible to see that some areas considered strongholds of the president are strangely less populated than a few years ago …

The powerful patronage machine MPS

This technology does not ensure fair and transparent elections – even if the biometric would be “full” – registration at the polling station. On 22 April, after nearly two weeks of waiting, the results of the presidential election last fall. Idriss Deby, the outgoing president, the head of Chad for 26 years, is unsurprisingly elected to a fifth term with 61.56% of votes in the first round.

Unlike the previous presidential election, in 2011, which was boycotted by the opposition, thirteen candidates – all men – have campaigned in a tense atmosphere. Four leaders, human rights activists and trade unionists, who wanted to organize protests against the candidacy of President Déby have been arrested and imprisoned. They were eventually released after three weeks marked by a significant mobilization – the Union of Trade Unions of Chad had called for the strike, followed very – but were sentenced to four months suspended sentence

We voted peacefully in N’Djamena. Marielle Debos / DR

Faced with opposition: the party of the president candidate, the Patriotic Movement of Hi (MPS), a powerful patronage machine has in all regions of the country. In the streets of N’Djamena, large posters announcing Idriss Deby before the polls would be “a blow KO” – understand that he would beat his opponents in the first round. In each area, small shelters or large properties have been converted into “support office” to Idriss Déby. On their walls repainted in the colors of MPS include the party emblem – a hoe and a Kalashnikov crossed with added flame – recalling that the president candidate came to power by force chasing Hissène Habré in 1990.

timely Disorders

If the voting proceeded calmly, it was not without problems, however. The military vote, the eve of the election of civilians is most worrying. Officers that controlled troupe of men voted “good.” Some soldiers were arrested and did not reappear. Their families denounce enforced disappearance. The minister of Security who claim that these soldiers would have gone on mission without informing their relatives are not likely to reassure them.

The nomads vote was then held in a large conducive disorder fraud. The vote sedentary has also been problematic: in some polling stations, ballots were missing, in others the minutes. Finally, the cutting of SMS and social networks, which is a way to prevent the dissemination of results of recounts and curb demonstrations, fueled the rumors.

A more reliable electoral list but disorders related to military voting or nomads. Marielle Debos / DR , Author Provided

It is not easy to distinguish between the disorders that fall under logistical difficulties real fraud. Especially when the only international observation mission is that of the African Union – organization whose president Idriss Déby is another himself … The thirty observers deployed in this huge country raised abnormalities but found despite all the election “credible and transparent”.

a national observation mission was set up by a powerful organization of civil society … known to be close to the ruling party . She had installed his headquarters in one of the major hotels in the capital. Some organizations, although devoid of international funding, do not seem to know about cash problems!

Out of sight

The MPS was the only party able to have representatives in all the polling stations. The opposition parties were not represented on the territory. In N’Djamena, the counting took place under the eye of activists and vigilant citizens. In southern cities, this was also the case. But such an organization is impossible in areas where it is expensive and sometimes risky to advertise with the opposition or “civil society”.

How to monitor voting and recounts if n ‘ there is no representatives of the opposition? How to check that the ballot boxes are not packed at night? That the minutes of the results sent to the capital to be compiled are the good? Even more difficult: how to prevent upstream local authorities to put pressure on voters? And especially how to give meaning to the act of voting when the hegemonic party, resulting from an armed movement, governed by combining repression and cooptation for years?

The introduction of biometric electoral n ‘have not only been a good deal for French industry. Idriss Déby escaped with an election (a little) more credible than the previous ones, without having to renounce his old recipes to stay in power.


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