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Chad - History Post-Indepdence

In 1959, the territory of French Equatorial Africa was dissolved, and its four constituent states -- Gabon, the Central African Republic, the Republic of the Congo, and Chad -- became autonomous members of the French Community. In August 1960 Chad became an independent country under its first president, Francois Tombalbaye, a southerner.

In many respects, the nomadic northern groups had never been subjugated, and turmoil in the north persisted in the 1980s. After 1905 the central and northern areas were administered as a territory in the federation of French Equatorial Africa (Afrique Equatoriale Franvaise - AEF). French interest, however, focused on other territories in the federation, and until after World War II, the French presence had little impact on the life of the average inhabitant. The French limited implementation of their administrative policy primarily to urban areas and their compulsory agricultural programs to what constitutes the south of after World War II, the French presence in present-day Chad. Participation by the local population in the colonial administration was marginal, and until the mid-1950s the educational opportunities prerequisite for such participation were practically nonexistent.

After World War II, representative institutions were introduced, and the growth of party politics began. Political groupings reflected domestic political developments in France and traditional ethnic factionalism in Chad. Short-lived political coalitions and party splinterings were commonplace. When Chad achieved independence in 1960, southerners - the group most exposed to the French administrators - dominated political life. These southerners were led by President Francois Tombalbaye, who made only halfhearted efforts at regional integration in government and who generally repressed opposition figures.

Tombalbaye's authoritarianism and distrust of democracy led him in 1962 to ban all political parties except his own Chadian Progressive Party (PPT) and to attempt to concentrate all power in his own hands. His treatment of opponents, real or imagined, was extremely harsh, filling the prisons with thousands of political prisoners. His discrimination against the mostly Muslim central and northern regions and his attempt to impose his own ethnic groups customs on other tribes in Chad resulted in a tax revolt in 1965 that precipitated civil war with northern and central militants taking up arms to oust Tombalbaye and end the Souths political dominance.

Within five years of having taken office, Tombalbaye's heavy-handed approach had alienated a large segment of the population, especially northerners and easterners, and had spurred rebellions. The most prominent of the northern rebel groups was the National Liberation Front of Chad (Front de Liberation Nationale du Tchad - FROLINAT), an umbrella organization formed in 1966. Over the years, FROLINAT went through a series of transformations and fragmentations. Nonetheless, by the mid-1970s rebel activity, in conjunction with Tombalbaye's political ineptitude, helped bring about the government's downfall. Despite the help of French combat forces, the Tombalbaye government was never able to quell the insurgency. Tombalbaye's rule became more irrational and brutal, leading the military to carry out a coup in 1975, assassinating Tombalbaye and installing General Felix Malloum, another southerner, as head of state. Tombalbaye was killed in 1975 during a military coup d'etat led by Felix Malloum.

In 1978, Malloum's government was broadened to include more northerners. Internal dissent within the government led the northern prime minister, Hissein Habre, to send his fighters against the national army in the capital in 1979, reigniting the civil war. The new government, however, had no more success than its predecessor in halting rebel activity. Nigeria and the Organization of African Unity (OAU) attempted to bring the Chadian factions together. In August 1979, the Lagos accord established a transitional government pending national elections planned within 18 months. Goukouni Oueddei, a northerner, was named President; Colonel Kamougue, a southerner, Vice President; and Habre, Minister of Defense.

In 1979 Hissein Habre, the northern rebel leader, ousted Malloum. Early in 1980, the accord broke down and fighting broke out again between Goukouni's and Habre's partisans. With assistance from Libya (which asserted a claim to the northern Chadian territory called the Aouzou Strip), Goukouni regained control of the capital and other urban centers and Habre retreated into Sudan. Goukounis policy of political union of Chad and Libya, however, was unpopular and generated support for Habre, whose forces took N'Djamena in June 1981. He proclaimed himself President. French troops and an OAU peacekeeping force of 3,500 Nigerian, Senegalese, and Zairian troops remained neutral during the conflict.

Habre continued to face armed opposition on various fronts and brutally repressed opposition to his rule. In 1983, Goukounis forces launched an offensive against the Habre governments positions in northern and eastern Chad with Libyan military support. This provoked French and Zairian forces to intervene to support Habre, pushing Goukounis and Libyan forces northward. In 1984, the French and Libyan Governments announced the mutual withdrawal of their forces from Chad. The French and Zairian troops withdrew, but Libyan forces backing Goukouni continued to occupy northern Chad.

Throughout the 1980s, the quest for political control changed from a north-south struggle to a primarily northern intraregional conflict. The turmoil of the late 1970s and 1980s had international and domestic aspects, as Libya, France, the United States, and many African nations became involved in the Chadian imbroglio. By early 1988, stability had been restored, but inter- and intraethnic differences, as well as regional divisions, continued to threaten Chad's progress toward national integration.

Habre defeated southern rebel groups and began a process of national reconciliation with former armed enemies and regime opponents. In 1986, Habres forces, with French and US financial and logistical support, attacked and decisively defeated the Libyans and Goukounis forces in northern Chad in what was known as the Toyota War, from Habres desert warriors preference for using light trucks and desert-warfare tactics in overcoming the more numerous and better-armed and -equipped enemy. With Libyan forces expelled from nearly all of Chadian territory, a cease-fire was declared in 1987 and Chad and Libya restored normal relations in 1989. In 1994 the International Court of Justice confirmed Chadian sovereignty over the Aouzou Strip, effectively ending residual Libyan occupation of parts of Chad.

Habres increasingly authoritarian rule and perceived favoritism of his own Gorane ethnic group weakened the coalition of northern and central groups on which he depended for support. In 1989, Idriss Deby, one of Habre's leading generals and a Zaghawa, defected and fled to Darfur in Sudan, from which he mounted a Zaghawa-supported series of attacks on the Habre regime. In December 1990, with Libyan and Sudanese assistance, Deby's forces successfully marched on N'Djamena, causing Habre to flee the country. Deby's Patriotic Salvation Movement (MPS) approved a national charter on February 28, 1991, with Deby as president.

During the 1990s and into the new century, Deby ruled in an authoritarian fashion, although proclaiming a desire for a democratic transition while surviving frequent coup and assassination attempts. He promulgated a new constitution in 1996, legalized political parties in 1992, and held an inclusive National Conference in 1993 aimed at political and electoral reform leading to a pluralist democratic regime.

The August 13, 2007 accord on political and electoral reforms continues to be implemented. The accord has been facilitated through technical and political support from the European Union (EU), the U.S., France, Germany, the African Union (AU), and Switzerland, and they and the UN actively support the electoral process. In February 2011, Chad held legislative elections. Approximately 56% of the electorate voted, and the election was conducted without major incidents or any violence. On February 27, Chads electoral commission announced that the ruling MPS and its allies had won 133 of 188 National Assembly seats. Opposition leaders alleged that fraud and irregularities invalidated the elections, but Chads Constitutional Court did not nullify the results. International observers noted the lack of election preparation and some irregularities, but did not consider the government to have engaged in fraud.

Chad held presidential elections in April 2011. President Deby won easily, with approximately 88% of the vote, although turnout appeared low to international observers. Leading opposition figures boycotted the presidential elections due to concerns that deficiencies in the legislative elections had not been corrected.

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Page last modified: 01-11-2016 19:20:40 ZULU