Chad - Government
Chad's parliament on 30 April 2018 overwhelmingly approved a new constitution that expanded President Idriss Deby's powers and could allow him to stay in office until 2033, in a vote boycotted by most opposition lawmakers. The new constitution reimposed a two-term limit scrapped in a 2005 referendum. But it would not be applied retroactively, meaning Deby could serve two terms after the next election in 2021. The new constitution - approved by a vote of 132 to two — introduces six-year rather than five-year presidential terms. That would mean Deby could stay in power until 2033. By then he would be 81-years-old and president of Chad for 43 years. Deby's opponents say that the constitution, which eliminated the post of prime minister and created a fully presidential system, was aimed at installing a de facto monarchy in Chad, an ally of Western nations fighting jihadist groups in West Africa.
The constitutional basis for the government was the 1996 constitution. A strong executive branch headed by the president dominates the Chadian political system. Chad is a unitary, centralized republic. The executive branch names all 22 governors, 61 prefects, and 252 sub-prefects, who have wide powers to administer the national territory.
The president had the power to appoint the prime minister and the Council of State (or cabinet), as well as judges, military officers, provincial officials, and heads of Chad's parastatal firms. In cases of grave and immediate threat, the president, in consultation with the National Assembly President and Council of State, may declare a state of emergency.
National Assembly deputies are elected by universal suffrage for 4-year terms. The Assembly holds regular sessions twice a year, and can hold special sessions when called for by the prime minister. Deputies elect a president of the National Assembly every 2 years. Assembly deputies or members of the executive branch may introduce legislation; once passed by the Assembly, the president must take action to either sign or reject the law within 15 days. The National Assembly must approve the prime minister's plan of government and may force the prime minister to resign through a majority vote of no confidence. However, if the National Assembly rejects the executive branch's program twice in 1 year, the president may disband the Assembly and call for new legislative elections. In practice, the president exercises considerable influence over the National Assembly through the MPS party structure.
Despite the constitution's guarantee of judicial independence from the executive branch, the president names most key judicial officials. The Supreme Court is made up of a chief justice, named by the president, and 15 councilors chosen by the president and National Assembly; appointments are for life. The Constitutional Council, with nine judges elected to 9-year terms, has the power to review all legislation, treaties and international agreements prior to their adoption. The constitution recognizes customary and traditional law in locales where it is long-established and to the extent it does not interfere with public order or constitutional guarantees of equality for all citizens.
After taking power from Hissène Habré in December 1990, President Idriss Déby Itno won three successive presidential elections in 1996, 2001 and 2006. During that period, Chad was not able, despite some progress, to achieve fully inclusive governance. A constitutional amendment adopted in June 2005 allowed President Déby to run for a third term in the elections conducted in May 2006. The defection of highranking military officers in 2005 and 2006 and their decision to join various Chadian rebel groups further undermined the political climate and posed a serious threat to the Government. Those rebel groups exploited the volatile situation in the border areas to launch what appear to be increasingly coordinated attacks against the national army of Chad.
The rebel groups reportedly comprised significant numbers of former officers of the national army as well as non-Chadians, including Sudanese nationals. In addition, some Sudanese armed elements, including from the Justice and Equality Movement and the National Redemption Front, also appear to be present in the north-eastern area of Chad, around Bahai. There were also allegations that Sudanese rebel groups were recruiting from refugee camps in Chad.
Chad experiencing a multifaceted humanitarian crisis linked to the conflict in Darfur and the instability in the northern Central African Republic. As at 30 November 2006, it was hosting approximately 232,000 refugees from Darfur, and an additional 48,000 refugees from the Central African Republic. Altogether, some 92,000 Chadians were displaced as a consequence of the upsurge in fighting, out of a total population of about 1.1 million in the eastern part of the country.
Despite the heavy burden that the Sudanese refugees represent for the country, the Government of Chad has welcomed them, in accordance with international standards and obligations. However, in order to cope with the situation, the Government repeatedly appealed to the international community for assistance. Out of the 232,000 Sudanese refugees, more than 220,000 receive assistance in 12 refugee camps. However, new refugees from Darfur continued to arrive, albeit at a lower rate. Initially they were accommodated in the existing camps. Those refugee camps are located in the border region adjacent to Darfur and, with the exception of two camps, they are all located more than 50 km away from the border. In November 2006, the Government of Chad decided that the camps should be relocated further inside the country, some 500 km from the border, and appealed for international assistance to do so.
Hostilities and the ensuing criminality forced humanitarian agencies to repeatedly evacuate staff from eastern Chad. Due to the complex and fluid security situation, refugees, displaced persons and host communities face a wide range of threats, which were compounded by the absence of the most basic law and order institutions. Among the most serious threats were the use of refugee camps for military purposes and local populations by the various rebel groups; forced recruitment, including of children; criminal activities; inter-ethnic strife; and violent competition for scarce natural resources. There was evidence of sexual and gender-based violence, but cultural norms prevent survivors from seeking treatment or reporting incidents. Overall, the growing insecurity is the single greatest impediment to the protection of the civilian population.
In view of the ever more volatile situation in the border region, and pursuant to the Tripoli Agreement of 8 February 2006 and the N’Djamena Agreement of 26 July 2006, Chad and the Sudan agreed to establish a joint mechanism to monitor the situation along the common border through the deployment of mixed military forces in several areas along the border. However, the Agreements were not implemented and relations between the two countries deteriorated considerably. Both parties accused each other of supporting rebel groups and/or mercenaries seeking to destabilize the respective Governments. At the same time, there was only very limited dialogue between the Government of Chad and the political opposition or the rebel groups.
Rebel and criminal activities, as well as inter-ethnic clashes, increased in eastern Chad. These activities included attacks by Janjaweed militia based in the southern Sudan, which have launched raids into Chad, looting and pillaging. On 13 November, Chad declared a state of emergency in the eastern part of the country, in particular in Ouaddaï, Wadi Fira and Salamat prefectures. The emergency was also extended, preventively, to Hadjer Lamis, Borkou-Ennedi-Tibesti and Moyen Chari prefectures and to N’Djamena. Following the recent brief occupation of Abéché in eastern Chad by rebels on 25 November 2006, the upsurge of rebel activities around Biltine, 60 km to the north-east of Abéché, and rebel threats to attack N’Djamena, the Government, on 28 November, declared that it was in “a state of war” with the Sudan, and accused both the Sudan and elements in Saudi Arabia of providing support to the rebels.
In a note verbale dated 7 November 2006, the Government of Chad expressed its preliminary views on a possible United Nations role in eastern Chad pursuant to Security Council resolution 1706 (2006). The note called for the limited deployment of “an international civilian force” to ensure security in the refugee camps established in the east of the country and to “guarantee their neutrality”. At the same time, it proposed that the force be made up of gendarmes provided by African countries and paid for by Europe or the United Nations. The note further indicated that the Government did not want Chad to be used as “a rear base for an intervention in Darfur under United Nations auspices without the prior consent of [the] Sudan”.
By 2010 the overall security situation remained “relatively quiet”, in part due to the rains, improved relations between Chad and Sudan, and the vigilance of national and joint border security forces. MINURCAT registered fewer reports of human rights abuses, although gender-based violence and arbitrary detention remained of concern. The humanitarian needs in 2010 in eastern Chad were immense. In that region, some 70 humanitarian organizations continued to provide assistance to some 255,000 refugees, more than 137,500 internally displaced persons and about 43,000 returnees, as well as a host population of 150,000. The destruction of more than 104,000 hectares of crops during the rainy season rendered the population vulnerable in southern, central and eastern Chad.
Chad's new 2018 constitution leaves no room for a vice-president or a prime minister. The president retains the sole decision-making power. He can dissolve the parliament if his decisions are not accepted by the majority. It's a one man show. And it's not democratic. In the case of Chad, it's especially bad because President Deby is anything but a flawless proponent of democracy. Rather, he silences critical voices by repression or cooptation. Deby's Western partners see him as a reliable partner in the fight against terrorism — and turn a blind eye to repression in Chad.
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