Increased oil revenues and increased violent opposition to President Deby’s regime go hand in hand in today’s Chad. Chad is one of the world’s poorest countries, but has a fantastic economic progress for a few of its inhabitants.
Chad’s revenue is rising so sharply after the country began exporting oil in 2003 that it now has one of the world’s fastest growing economies. This increase is only visible to a small elite. The country scores extremely low on indicators such as life expectancy, literacy and access to health. Since the turn of the millennium, the country has fallen 10 places on the United Nations Human Development Index (HDI). In 2009, Chad ranked 175th on the index, out of 182 classified countries. The country also gets the lowest score for political rights and civil liberties by the human rights organization Freedom House.
Conflict with the World Bank resolved
The increased wealth of the country and the minimal development of the population lead to increased differences between a small elite and the rest of the population. The political elite has become even less dependent on popular support than before, because it has international oil money in its back. In Chad, ExxonMobil, Chevron and Petronas are the biggest producers. In addition, France militarily supports President Deby’s sitting regime. The military support is governed by an old 1976 military cooperation agreement that is still valid. US anti-terror program Africom also supports Deby’s regime for fear of a successor more positive to Islam and Sudan.
The state of Chad has long neglected the basic needs of its own inhabitants. Neglect and differences have only increased with rising oil revenues. This is despite the fact that the World Bank demanded that 70 percent of oil revenues should go to health and education purposes as they granted the largest single loan ever to an African country for Chad to finance the construction of the Chad oil pipeline to the Gulf of Guinea. When the Chad Parliament changed the law on the use of oil revenues in December 2005 so that the agreement with the World Bank was bypassed, the bank stopped all payments to Chad. In July 2006, relations between the World Bank and Chad were again normalized and the old agreement resumed. It may seem that Chad’s oil is more important to the United States than the principles of allocating oil revenues to health and education.
Rebels with Sudan support
From the colonial liberation in 1960 to 1990, Chad was ruled by authoritarian military leaders. Civil war characterized much of this period. Today’s President, Idriss Deby, took power from President Hissene Habré at a military coup in December 1990 and sent Habré into exile to Senegal. There Habré is charged with genocide without the trial against him getting started. President Deby established a new constitution and introduced a multi-party system in Chad during his first years as president. Of course, he won the country’s first presidential election in 1996, and he was re-elected for his second term in 2001. As the May 2006 election approached, President Deby got Parliament to change the Constitution so that he could stand as a candidate for the third time. He won this election with ease, since it was boycotted by all major opposition parties. Since then, Chad has been characterized by strong political turmoil and violence. A number of murder attempts against Deby in connection with the presidential election were averted. The state of emergency has almost become a normal state for people in Chad after Deby declared the state of emergency both in November 2006, in May 2007, in October 2007, in March 2008 and in May 2009. Under the state of emergency, public meetings are prohibited, the press is censored, people can be imprisoned Without reason, house searches are carried out and roadblocks are set up, as well as the introduction of a curfew.
The opposition in Chad has for many years sought to overthrow President Deby. Three different rebel movements almost succeeded in taking over the presidential palace in February 2008. Disagreement over which of the three leaders was to take over as president, as well as the fact that France supported incumbent President Deby in the last minute, failed the coup attempt. The various political and military rebel movements in Chad gathered for the ninth time in one joint organization towards the end of 2008. This time, eight of the main opposition groups joined forces in the Union des Forces de la Resistance (UFR listed on AbbreviationFinder.org). After extensive internal discussions, the positions in the UFR were distributed. Timian Erdimi, nephew of President Deby and his former chief of staff, was appointed leader in January 2009. Joint military training for UFR started in Darfur province of Sudan, with Sudan President Bashir’s tacit approval. A powerful UFR offensive in early May 2009 was halted by President Deby’s forces at the city of AmDam, about 700 km east of the capital N’Djamena. This is the neighboring town of Abeché, where the UN peacekeeping force, MINURCAT II, is headquartered. The force consists of nearly 5,000 soldiers, of whom 150 a period came from Norway. In all, French intelligence was crucial in providing Deby’s forces with information on UFR’s movements.
After the military defeat in May 2009, the UFR rebel movement is greatly weakened and several of their supporters have been bought by Deby and have been given various positions of power in the country’s administration. This is a common procedure Deby has often used to get rid of her worst opponents. Deby used the same tactics when the previous coup attempt was defeated in February 2008. One of the rebel leaders from that time, Wadel Abdelkader Kamougué, was offered, and, yes, accepted, the position of Chad’s defense minister. Dozens of similar examples exist only in recent years in Chad.
Gradually unsuccessful attempts weaken and divide the opposition. Thus, President Deby is able to create new connections with both individuals in the opposition and with other countries. France still has an agreement with Chad to support the current president against internal or external uprisings. Sarkozy has long said that France will renegotiate the old French defense agreements with African countries, but for Chad, the negotiations have not yet begun. Sudan and Chad now appear to be more at wavelength after many years of mutual accusations of support for each other’s militarized opposition groups. In January 2010, the two countries signed an agreement to end the rebel movements in each other’s countries, active work for a peaceful solution to the conflicts in eastern Chad and Darfur, as well as normalized diplomatic relations between Chad and Sudan. Many see this as the beginning of the end for the UFR and the other Chad rebels. As if that is not enough, Libya has now stopped supporting the military opposition groups in Chad. At the time of writing, everything suggests that PresidentDeby will be able to sit long enough in the presidential chair to both celebrate the 60th anniversary of Chad’s independence in August 2010 and the 20th anniversary of Chad’s president in December 2010. That’s not because he has the support of the people, but because he has managed to split the opposition and make international friends who want Deby as still president of Chad.
Area: 1.3 million km2 (5th largest)
Population: 11 million
Population density per km2: 8.5
Urban population: 26 percent
Largest city: N’Djamena – approx. 989 000
GDP per capita: $ 765.5
Economic growth: 0.3 percent
HDI Position: 175