Hissène Habré in Power
Chad has been subjected to the machinations of a vast number of groups and organizations. Politically, Chadians have endured a series of authoritarian regimes, none of which has successfully limited factionalism. From 1960 until 1975, Franqois Tombalbaye, a civilian, led the country. His regime was characterized by southern domination of the administrative structure, although he made modest attempts at placating northern and central interests. As disaffection in these regions increased, in the late 1960s dissident groups formed an antigovernment coalition, the National Liberation Front of Chad (Front de Liberation Nationale du Tchad - FROLINAT). Although never fully unified, this group or associated elements of it led the fight for greater northern and central representation in government.
By the early 1970s, Tombalbaye had alienated not only these groups but also even much of the south. Although he was wary of a French military presence after independence, the president readily embraced France's support in stemming violent discontent. Nonetheless, opposition grew, and in 1975 Tombalaye was killed in a military coup d'etat. Another southerner, Felix Malloum, assumed power, but he had no more success than his predecessor in suppressing the burgeoning insurgencies and demands for greater regional participation. International intervention resulted in a peace accord between the government and the rebels and the formation of the Transitional Government of National Unity (Gouvernement d'Union Nationale de Transition - GUNT). For many observers, the establishment of GUNT was a watershed, marking the end of southern political domination. It did not, however, bring an end to strife.
The traditional north-and-central versus south split was transformed into an internecine argument among former opposition factions.
GUNT's most important leaders were northerners Goukouni Oueddei and Hissein Habre, erstwhile allies in FROLINAT's Second Liberation Army. In command of separate factions, they battled one another for control of the capital, N'Djamena. With Libyan armed support, Goukouni evicted Habre's forces at the end of 1980. Under pressure from the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and other nations, in 1981 Goukouni asked the Libyan troops to leave; in their place, security was to be maintained by an OAU peacekeeping unit, the Inter-African Force (IAF). Seizing the initiative, Habre's regrouped and resupplied forces attacked from the northeast, and by 1982 his Armed Forces of the North (Forces Armees du Nord-FAN) had entered the capital, without any IAF interference, and sent Goukouni into exile.
Goukouni's defeat was only temporary. With massive Libyan military aid, by mid-1983 he was attacking from northern strongholds Habre's newly formed Chadian National Armed Forces (Forces Armees Nationales Tchadiennes-FANT). Concerned about Libyan leader Muammar al Qadhafi's intentions, France responded by dispatching a large force of troops and advisers. It also began a round-the-clock airlift of military supplies and established forward positions roughly along 160 north latitude. As a result of negotiations with Libya that required a mutual withdrawal of forces, French units were recalled in November 1984. Libya, however, failed to comply with these terms and reinforced its presence, especially in the Aozou Strip.
In 1986 the French redeployed to Chad. Habre's forces, which had also benefited since 1983 from weaponry provided by the United States, launched an offensive against the Libyan positions in late 1986 and early 1987 that resulted in the routing of Libyan troops and the capture of large amounts of Libyan military equipment. By late 1988, a measure of calm had been restored to Chadian political life. Habre was attempting to consolidate his authority, but at the same time, he was mending some of the divisiveness that has hampered nation building. He weathered a rebellion in the south in the late 1980s and brought many former opponents into high-ranking governmental positions. He sought to extend his regime through the National Union for Independence and Revolution (Union Nationale pour l'Independance et la Revolution-UNIR) and hoped to mobilize Chadians in rural areas.
These good intentions notwithstanding, the overwhelming majority of Chadians did not participate in the political process. The Fundamental Law of 1982, an interim constitution, vested paramount power in the president, who ruled almost without challenge. Although a committee was appointed to draft a permanent constitution, as of late 1988 there were no elected bodies, nor were any elections planned.
The evolution of Chad's armed forces mirrors the country's political transformation. Like the governmental structure of the 1960s, the army that was created after independence was dominated by southern groups. This fledgling force relied heavily on French materiel and-until Tombalbaye reconsidered this dependence- French military advisers. But neither the southern-dominated Chadian Armed Forces (Forces Armees Tchadiennes - FAT) nor the French units could deter the determined insurgents from the northern and central regions, most of whom fought under the FROLINAT banner. By 1978 FAT was in disarray, and it eventually splintered into minor factions.
Habre's FANT, formed in 1983, continued to provide national security in 1988, along with several French units. FANT was a conglomeration of FAN and smaller rebel armies that rallied to Habre's side in the 1980s. Many former opposition leaders held positions of authority in the FANT organizational structure. In addition to 3 operational battalions and 127 infantry companies, FANT had a small air force. Chad's internal security requirements were provided by the well-trained Presidential Guard and by several national and territorial police forces. Following the defection of many of Goukouni's followers to FANT in the late 1980s, the group that presented the most serious threat to Chad's security was the Democratic Revolutionary Council (Conseil Democratique R~volutionnaire - CDR), which, under Libyan patronage, was active in the north. But Qadhafi's stated desire to normalize relations with Chad, enunciated in April 1988, inspired hopes that a period of genuine peace-a circumstance that thecountry had not enjoyed during the previous two decades-might finally ensue.
In November 1988, Habre convinced Acheikh ibn Oumar, the leader of the CDR, to join the government. In accordance with his policy of reconciliation with opponents, in March 1989 Habre appointed Oumar as minister of foreign affairs. Three high-ranking officials, reportedly members of the Zaghawa ethnic group who resented the large number of former regime opponents named to influential positions, unsuccessfully collaborated to assassinate Habre on the night of April 1, 1989. The three plotters were Minister of Interior Ibrahim Mahamat Itno, FANT commander in chief Hassane Djamouss, and Idris Deby, a high-ranking FANT officer; at one time, all of them had been very dose advisers to the president.
According to one report, another grievance of the plotters was that Habre had been persecuting the Zaghawa while promoting the interests of the Daza, his own ethnic group. Indeed, a November 1988 report issued by the human rights organization Amnesty International criticized the government for arbitrary arrests and unreasonable detentions, lending credence to the plotters' claims. Most accounts claimed that Itno had been arrested and that Djamouss and Deby had escaped capture; their whereabouts, however, were unknown, although some sources reported them to be in Sudan organizing an opposition army. Regardless of their circumstances, it was apparent in mid-1989 that Habre's policy of national reconciliation was not being carried out to the satisfaction of all of the factions in Chad, and the stability of the government remained uncertain.
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