N’Djamena — Chad on Monday was due to start discussing sweeping constitutional reforms including presidential term limits in a country ruled with an iron fist by Idriss Deby since a 1996 coup. A "national forum", comprising about 700 participants that includes ruling party figures, members of civil society close to the government and representatives of the Chadian diaspora, was due to kick off in the capital N’Djamena. It is being boycotted by the opposition. The Fonac, or the New Opposition Front for Change party has said the process is aimed at "perpetuating the power of Idriss Deby, something that is harmful and dangerous for the future of Chad". A draft of the proposals includes a presidential term of seven years through direct universal suffrage and a maximum of two terms. The current mandate is five years and there are no limits on re-election. Deby came to power in a 1996 coup and is serving his fifth term. There has been growing anger in the oil-producing country over Deby’s...

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