Chad is a country located in Central Africa. With the capital city of N’Djamena, Chad has a population of 16,425,875 based on a recent census from COUNTRYAAH. Chad became independent from France in 1960. François Tombalbaye, leader of the Chad Progressive Party (PPT), became the country’s first president.
Tombalbaye, who belonged to the sara people in the south, introduced one-party rule but the nomad people in the north refused to submit to a regime characterized by sara people. In the past, people from the north had dominated the Sara people, but this order changed during the colonial era when the residents of the south received education and gradually became entrusted with tasks in the administration.
- ABBREVIATIONFINDER: List of most commonly used acronyms containing Chad. Also includes historical, economical and political aspects of the country.
The nomad people organized themselves against the regime in Chad’s National Liberation Front (Frolinat), under the two rival leaders Hissène Habré and Goukouni Oueddei. Fighting between them gave rise to new rebel groups, and from 1965 there was full civil war.
President Tombalbaye, who over time became increasingly dictatorial, was assassinated in 1975 in connection with a military coup. It was conducted by officers from the south, led by General Félix Malloum.
Prolonged civil war
In 1978, the military made peace with Habré’s branch of Frolinat, but fighting broke out in 1979 and Habré’s men entered the capital N’Djamena. Under threat of invasion from Libya, a unifying and transitional government was formed in 1979 with Oueddei as president. The civil war, however, gained new momentum, mainly between Oueddei’s forces and allies led by Habré, now Defense Minister. With support from Libya, Oueddei resigned with the victory.
But in 1982, Habré’s forces were able to re-capture N’Djamena and drive Oueddei on the run. Habré installed himself as president and his forces received support from Zaire (current Congo-Kinshasa), USA and France.
Oueddei continued his fight against Habré with Libyan support from bases in the north. Habré remained in power with the help of French forces. The Civil War continued throughout the 1980s. In 1989, Habré’s presidency was extended for another seven years. Check best-medical-schools for more information about Chad.
Habrés ruled the country with brutal methods. It has been estimated that as many as 40,000 people were killed and more than 200,000 were tortured by Habré’s secret police who were tasked with overseeing the community and suppressing all opposition efforts.
Deby takes power
Habré was deposed in 1990 by his former military commander Idriss Déby, who came from the north and led the Patriotic Rescue Movement (MPS), which fought the regime from bases in Sudan. When the MPS conquered N’Djamena, Habré fled abroad, reportedly leading a large portion of the Treasury. The constitution was repealed and Parliament was dissolved again. Déby promised democratization and a new constitution. In 1991, political parties were allowed to form.
However, the situation in the country remained chaotic. Several coup attempts were fought and fighting broke out with rebel groups in the south and in the north. Both sides committed serious abuses against the civilian population. A democratization conference was held in 1993 with representatives of government agencies, political movements and trade unions in an effort to unite the country. A provisional constitution was adopted, and parliament and the transitional government were appointed. Yet the violence continued. In 1994, Déby issued a general amnesty for political prisoners and for the opposition in exile – with the exception of Habré. Several rebel movements agreed to peace and in 1996 a ceasefire was agreed.
In March 1996, a new constitution was adopted following a referendum. When presidential elections were held later that year, Déby prevailed. After the parliamentary elections in early 1997, both the MPS and the opposition parties claimed that there were electoral fraud. After intervention by the court, MPS was awarded just over half of the mandate in the new National Assembly. The opposition parties Union for Renewal and Democracy (URD) and National Union for Development and Renewal (UNDR), both of which had their base in the south, took office in the new government.
In 1998, a series of agreements were concluded that officially ended the fighting in the south, where the government had now started planning for oil recovery. Chad and Cameroon agreed to jointly build an oil pipeline to the Cameroonian coast.
Peace with rebels
Through a constitutional change in 2000, MPS-dominated districts increased their representation in the National Assembly at the expense of the opposition. The regime also strengthened its influence over the electoral commission. Contradictions within the government led to the dismissal of the ministers of the URD and UNDR.
Idriss Déby also won the presidential election in 2001. The opposition again accused the MPS of cheating, but according to foreign election observers, the election was largely right.
With the help of Libyan mediation, in 2002 – 2003, a peace process was initiated between the government and the rebel group Movement for Democracy and Justice in Chad (MDJT), which over the previous four years periodically controlled large parts of the regions of Tibesti and Ennedi at the border with Libya in the north. The MDJT was dominated by the toubou people and provided with arms and money from Libya. The group split in 2002 into a faction that continued the armed struggle and another that negotiated with the government. The latter signed a peace agreement in 2003. The same year, the government also made peace with an alliance of eight groups in eastern and southeastern Chad. The rebels were promised amnesty, but not everyone accepted the agreement and fighting continued (read more in Current Politics).
In the 2002 parliamentary elections, the MPS and its supporting party, the Collection for Democracy and Progress (RDP) together received close to 80 percent of the mandate. The UDR with several boycotted the election and the government was once again accused of electoral fraud.
Refugee stream and new conflicts
From 2003, the Darfur uprising in Sudan spilled across the border to Chad. Hundreds of thousands of refugees from Darfur crossed the border into Chad. There was already competition for resources between residents and nomads. Moreover, conflicts arose between those who already lived in the area and the refugees. The oil recovery that started in southern Chad at the same time diluted the conflict. The bitterness increased when the oil money did not benefit the people but was mainly used to reward President Déby’s political allies in N’Djamena and to arm the government army. A large number of rebel groups were founded.
In 2004, Parliament passed a series of constitutional amendments that strengthened the presidential power and allowed the president to stand for re-election an unlimited number of times. At the same time, the age limit of 70 years for presidential candidates was abolished, and it became the president’s job to decide on future constitutional changes. The proposals were approved in a referendum in 2005. The opposition believed that this was done through cheating. The changes were rejected not only by the political opposition but also by people within zagawa. The dissatisfaction led to mass shootings within the army at the same time as several of Déby’s close allies switched sides and went over to the rebels.
The conflict with the rebels in the east was closely linked to what happened in Sudan. Déby’s zagawa people group is on both sides of the border and zagawa in Darfur participated in the uprising against the government of Sudan. When, in solidarity with Sudan, Déby sent over his army to help fight the rebels, it turned out that Chadian government soldiers were not always ready to fight their kinsmen on the other side of the border. Chad’s lack of help resulted in Sudan’s starting to support eastern Chad rebels in their fight against the government of Debbie and vice versa. Chadian rebels established bases in Sudan while insurgent movements from Darfur were given a refuge in Chad.
Parliamentary elections are postponed
In January 2006, Parliament voted to extend its own term of office for a year, citing that the country could not afford to hold parliamentary elections at the same time as the presidential election, which would be held in May. In the presidential election, Déby won with 65 percent of the vote. A large part of the opposition boycotted the election.
Following pressure from donor countries, Déby conducted a dialogue with the opposition in 2007. Among other things, the parties agreed to postpone the planned parliamentary elections to 2009.
The fighting against the rebels was mainly going on in the eastern part of the country but in 2006 the rebels made an unsuccessful attempt to take the capital. At the end of 2007, the largest rebel movements united in a new alliance and in early 2008 another push was made against N’Djamena. This time, the rebels managed to reach the President’s Palace, which was surrounded before being driven back after a few days and the government regained control of the capital.
After the unsuccessful attack on the capital and yet another serious setback for the rebels in fighting with the government army in May 2009, Sudan began to doubt the wisdom of supporting the rebels. Approaching Chad’s government seemed like a better alternative. A reconciliation process was initiated and in early 2010 Sudan and Chad agreed to start working together to stop the rebels’ progress in their respective countries, and control at the common border was tightened.
The Rebels never recovered from the defeat in May. At the end of 2010, one of the leaders of the largest alliance, the Union of Resistance Forces (UFR), stated that the Rebels lost 80 percent of their original strength.
In February 2011, parliamentary elections were held for the first time since 2002. The elections had been postponed several times due to inadequate preparation and lack of security. Prior to the election, Déby’s MPS had merged with two small parties in the Alliance for Chad’s Rebirth (ART). The opposition was gathered in the Coordination of Political Parties in Defense of the Constitution (CPDC). ART won 132 of the 188 seats in Parliament, of which MPS received 117. The opposition claimed that cheating was occurring but the election was approved by EU election observers.
In the presidential election two months later, Déby won 89 percent of the vote. He was only challenged by two candidates from smaller parties since the three main opposition politicians decided to boycott the election. They felt that there was a risk that the election would not go right, and jumped off when they were not heard for their demands. Among other things, they had demanded that new ballots be printed after one of the candidates found ballots for sale in a market in the capital.