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« Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #9 of 54: Central African Republic | Main | Interracial Relationships »

May 09, 2006

Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #10 of 54: Chad Republic

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) --- 10. CHAD REPUBLIC Flag of Chad Republic

Formal Name: Republic of Chad.

Term for Citizens: Chadian.

Capital: N’Djamena. Population: 735,000

Independence Achieved: August 11, 1960, from France.

Major Cities: N’Djamena.

Geography:

Chad covers a land area of 495, 755 square miles. It is located in Central Africa and is bounded by Libya, Sudan, Cameroon, Nigeria and Niger. The country is part of the Sahara desert. Eastwards, after Mount Tibesti (12, 000 feet), the land is barren. The southern part of the country, particularly close to Lake Chad is savanna. Lake Chad is nearly 150 miles long and 100 miles wide, but in many places only four feet deep. Most of the people in Chad live in the Lake Chad basin, in Southern Chad. Rainfall is sparse even in the savanna region and almost nil in the north deserts.


Society:

The population of Chad is estimated at 9,598,000.

Ethnic Groups: Kirdi, Sara, Salamat, Fulani, Teda.

Languages: Arabic, French and a number of African languages.

Religion: Islam, Christianity and Animist.

Education: Primary education is available to all but scantly accessed. Literacy rate is estimated at 47.5 %.

Economy: Fishing on Lake Chad and herding of cattle, sheep and goats were the traditional economic activities. Only about one third of the country is suitable for agricultural activities. Two thirds of the people are farmers. Chad also grows cotton and coffee, for export, and produces manioc, millet, corn, peanuts, sweet potatoes and yams for local consumption. Chad is a landlocked country with few good roads to transport its agricultural products. GDP estimate: $10 billion; Per Capita GDP: $260. Monetary Unit: CFA Franc BEAC (XAF).

History and Government:

France ruled Chad. Upon independence, Chad inherited French type presidential democracy. Military coups soon follow. Civil wars and border disputes with Libya are on going and retard the country’s modernization efforts. President Idriss Deby and his prime minister seem to have restored peace in the country. The country is divided into 14 prefectures.



CONTEMPORARY HISTORY AND POLITICS

In 1900 Chad was colonized by France. In 1960 Chad became independent from France. Francois Tombalbaye became Chad’s first modern president.

Tombalbaye is a Christian southerner. His rule was not accepted by Northern Muslims. Thus, a period of political instability ensued in Chad, largely due to the political cleavage between the Muslim North and Christian South. The North essentially did not recognize the government of Tombalbye and engaged in low key guerilla war to topple him. In 1975, Tombalbye was killed in a coup by Noel Milare Odingar. Odingar himself was quickly eliminated by Felix Malloum.

Libya then got involved in Chad’s politics and funded a Northerner, Goukouni Oueddei, whose forces by 1979 toppled Malloum’s government. A Full blown civil war ensued. Essentially, the Christian South and the Muslim North were at war, with Libya supporting the North and France and other Western powers supporting the South. Chad was devastated by this incessant war.

In 1980, Muammar al-Qaddafi’s Libyan troops occupied most of Northern Chad. France and the United States supported Hissene Habre and he came to power in Chad. Habre’s forces and Qaddafi’s forces battled for the control of Chad until 1987 when Habre’s forces eventually defeated Qaddafi’s forces.

In 1990, a Libyan supported military, under Idriss Deby, toppled Habre’s government and Habre fled into exile in Senegal. Deby became the dictator of Chad and essentially embarked on a one man rule.

However, during the 1990s, it was said that there was a wind of change blowing across Africa; that African countries were passing from dictators to democracies. Deby accommodated this democratic movement and, for show, wrote a constitution and held an election in which he promptly defeated his challengers in 1996 and 2001. Deby later amended the constitution in 2005, to permit him to compete for more terms in office. Deby is still the President of Chad.

The new constitution established the office of the President, Prime Minister, and National Assembly, Supreme Court, Political parties and regularized elections. The President is elected by all Chadians above the age of 18. He appoints the Prime Minister from the Party with the majority of seats in the unicameral Parliament. (He also appoints the members of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, Criminal Courts and Magistrate Courts.)

The country is divided into 18 regions, which are further subdivided into 52 departments and 348 sub-prefectures.

Chad is primarily an agricultural country but recently oil was found and a pipe line, financed by International Financial Institutions, was constructed from Chad to the Atlantic Ocean in the south. This makes Chad’s economy relatively well financed. Nevertheless, Chad remains one of the poorest countries in the world and the per capita income of the country’s nine plus million persons is U.S $260 (World Bank, 2005).

To construct that pipe line, apparently, Chad promised not to redirect money from her oil to non-developmental areas. Recently, there was brouhaha over the government’s efforts to redirect money from oil to purposes other than economic development. Some suspect that this was meant to siphon the money and put it to corrupt purposes.

President Deby appears secure in his power and is now permitting freedom of the Press. Nevertheless, the government controls radio broadcasting, the main means of communication in the country. A few private radio stations exist in Chad but they are heavily regulated by the government and can hardly provide dissenting opinion. The only Television station in the country, Telechad, is owned by the government. Some private newspapers circulate, especially in the capital; they seem free to criticize the government, who equally seem determined to ignore them.

The major problem of Chad is the North- South cleavage. The North Is Muslim and has long association with Libya, Egypt and Sudan and considers itself Arab (or is Arabicized), and, indeed, speaks a form of pidgin Arabic. The South is either animist or Christian. These two regions do not see eye to eye.

Complicating the situation is Libya’s constant meddling in Chad’s politics. Qaddafi seems to believe that Chad is his sphere of influence; indeed, at times he seems to believe that he could annex parts of Chad, but for the international community that opposes that adventure.
Another complicating problem is the situation in Darfur region of Sudan. The killing of Africans by Arab Janjaweed militia in Darfur caused Sudanese refugees to spill over into Eastern Chad. Some of these Africans form their own militia and fight their Arab tormentors. They seem to launch their attacks into Sudan from Chad and that led to Sudanese troops pursuing them into Chadian territory. At some point in 2005, Chad announced that it was at a state of war with Sudan. All these fighting means that money, already scant, is devoted to military purposes, while the people of Chad live in abject poverty.

ozodi@africainstituteseattle.org

Posted by Administrator at May 9, 2006 08:04 AM

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