Updated March 2011
The Constitution (1996) is silent on the subject of the electoral management body. The Commission Electorale Nationale Indépendante (CENI; National Independent Electoral Commission) is established by Article 1 of Law 020/PR/2008 concerning the creation of a National Independent Commission (Loi no 020/PR/2008 portant création d'une Commission Electorale Nationale Indépendant). This law is supplemented by Décret no 621/PR/PM/MISP/2009, which provides greater specificity. The CENI is not a permanent body, but is constituted afresh for each election, and continuity is provided by a secretariat termed the Permanent Elections Office (Loi no 020/PR/2008, Articles 4, 6). According to Décret no 621 (Article 6), the members of the CENI must exercise their mandate independently and without regard to external instruction and the government and political parties are required to respect their mission. Since the CENI has sole responsibility for the execution of electoral operations in compliance with the electoral code (at present Loi no 003/PR/2009 portant Code Electoral), its decisions, proposals and opinions in fulfilment of these are binding on the government (Décret no 621, Article 2).
The CENI is composed of 31 members appointed by decree (Loi no 020/PR/2008, Article 4):
Moreover, Commissioners must be appointed with regard to their competence, probity and patriotism and though designated by political parties must direct their attention to the interests of the country, and not those of these parties, to ensure democratic, free and transparent elections and so ensure the integrity of these elections (Décret no 621, Article 5). Should a post on the CENI become vacant the lack is filled in the same way as appointment are made (Décret no 621, Article 4).
For a list of commissioners see Members of the CENI
The terms of office of Commissioners expire three months after each election, no restrictions are placed on members serving on future Commissions and neither were any prescriptions made on when each new CENI should be constituted (Loi no 020/PR/2008, Article 4). This last lapse was remedied in Décret no 621 (Article 3), which specified that the CENI was to be created at least four months before any general election and in the case of by elections that it is to brought into being as soon as a election day is proclaimed.
Political parties and candidates competing in elections may each send a representative to observe the work of the CENI or its structures and a request to do so may not be refused (Loi no 020/PR/2008, Article 12; Décret no 621, Article 16).
The CENI is charged with the organisation, supervision and control of electoral operations, including the conduct of voter registration and referendum, presidential, legislative and local polls (Loi no 020/PR/2008, Article 2). More specifically it is required to:
Direction is given to the work of the CENI by a board consisting of the Chairperson of the CENI and six other CENI members, namely a first and second deputy chair, a rapporteur and assistant rapporteur and a treasurer and deputy treasurer (Loi no 020/PR/2008, Article 5; Décret no 621 Article 7). Half of the six members, and one each of the functions, are designated by the governing and opposition parties respectively (Décret no 621, Article 7).
The members of the CENI board appointed in August 2009 are (Decision No 001/P.CENI/09):
The CENI is assisted by a permanent secretariat, the Permanent Elections Office, which executes electoral operations under the authority of the CENI (BPE; Bureau Permanent des Elections. Loi no 020/PR/2008, Article 6; Décret no 621, Article 11, 12). The BPE is headed by a Director General, currently Ali Hissein Ahmat, appointed by the Minister of Territorial Administration on the advice of the CENI (Loi no 020/PR/2008, Article 6; Décret no 621, Articles 2, 14). The organisation and functions of the BPE are determined by a decree of Council of Ministers based on a proposal from the Minister formulated after consultation with the CENI (Loi no 020/PR/2008, Article 6). However, according to Décret no 621, Article 13, the executive decree must be prepared by the CENI, transmitted to the Council through the Minister and its provisions cannot be modified without the CENI's consent (see also Article 2).
The CENI has a free hand in recruiting the staff required to execute electoral operations and determines their remuneration and allowances and it may also draw on the expertise of the Civil Service, which is compelled to provide the support it requires (Loi no 020/PR/2008, Articles 13, 14; Décret no 621, Articles 17).
The subordinate structures of the CENI are replications of the CENI itself on a smaller scale at regional (régions), district (départements) and local (communes/communautés rurales) levels (with appropriate structures for diplomatic missions). Each has a chairperson agreed on by the parties and equal numbers of representatives from the governing and opposition parties; there are 15 members in a regional commission, 13 in a district commission (N'Djamena, the capital, is treated as one of these) and 11 in a local commission (Loi no 020/PR/2008, Articles 15-18). Similarly each has a board composed of seven members in the case of a region or district and five in that of a local structure (Loi no 020/PR/2008, Articles 15-18; Décret no 621 Articles 8-10. On the local level the distribution between government and opposition is slightly different, but the principle of equal representation is maintained).
To cover the expenses of electoral operations the CENI is required to submit a budget to the government for approval, the chairperson of the CENI alone is responsible for the approval of expenditure and the management of funds and the accounts of the CENI must be lodged with the Supreme Court after each election for verification (Loi no 020/PR/2008, Articles 21, 23). The remuneration and allowances of the members of the CENI, its subordinate structures and those of the Director General are determined by executive decree, while those of other employees are determined by the CENI (Loi no 020/PR/2008, Articles 13, 22).
The CENI is required to publish a report after each election (Loi no 020/PR/2008, Article 3).
Commission Electorale Nationale Indépendante (CENI): [www] http://www.ceni-td.org/ [opens new window] (accessed 1 Mar 2011).
DECISION NO 001/P.CENI/09, 7 août 2009.
DÉCRET NO 621/PR/PM/MISP/2009 (portant Commission Electorale Nationale Indépendante), 6 juin 2009, [wwww] http://www.presidencetchad.org/decret_621_09.htm [opens new window] (accessed 3 Aug 2010).
LOI NO 020/PR/2008 PORTANT CRÉATION D'UNE COMMISSION ELECTORALE NATIONALE INDÉPENDANTE, du 23 décembre 2008, [www] http://www.iss.co.za/uploads/CHADCENI.PDF [opens new window] (accessed 4 Aug 2010).
LOI NO 003/PR/2009 portant Code Electoral, du 7 janvier 2009, [www] http://www.cefod.org/spip.php?article2007 [opens new window] (accessed 4 Aug 2010).
RÉPUBLIQUE DU TCHAD CONSTITUTION DU 31 MARS 1996 RÉVISÉE, [www] http://www.la-constitution-en-afrique.org/ext/http://democratie.francophonie.org/IMG/pdf/Constitution_revisee_de_la_Republique_du_Tchad.pdf (as amended in 2005), [PDF document, opens new window] (accessed 4 Aug 2010).