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Tragic Tradeoffs: Democracy and Security in Chad


Anarchic tendencies in Chad serve as a cautionary example of what the on-going reconfiguration of Africa may entail. Interim institutions of government set up by a Sovereign National Conference, which was convened two years after the downfall of the despotic régime of Hissène Habré in December 1990, have generated deep disappointment. Democratisation has proceeded fitfully. The economy remains stagnant. Strikes in the public sector reflect the ‘social crisis’. Worst of all, the security situation has deteriorated substantially and the state is suffering from a severe lack of authority.

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1 For background on the colonial and post-independence eras, see Decalo Samuel, ‘Regionalism, Political Decay, and Civil Strife in Chad’, in The Journal of Modern African Studies (Cambridge), 18, 1, 03 1980, pp. 2356, and ‘Chad: the roots of centre-periphery strife’, in African Affairs, (London), 79, 317, 10 1980, pp. 490509;Lemarchand René, ‘The Politics of Sara Ethnicity: a note on the origins of the civil war in Chad’, in Cahiers d'études africaines (Paris), 80, 1980, pp. 449–71, and ‘Chad: the misadventures of the North—South dialectic’, in African Studies Review (Atlanta), 29, 3, 09 1986, pp. 2741; and Collelo Thomas (ed.), Chad: a country study (Washington, DC, 1990), US Government Area Handbook Series. More recent studies include: Foltz William, ‘From Habré to Déby: the search for political order in Chad’, African Studies Center Conference (Research Group on Francophone Africa) on ‘Brazzaville+50’, Boston University, 1994, as well as Reyna S. P., ‘Unimagined States: the case of Chad in comparative context’, New York Academy of Sciences Conference,New York,1994, and ‘Domination in the Absence of Means’, in Bond George C. and Vincent Joan (eds.), Paths of Violence: destruction and deconstruction in African states (New York, 1995).

2 See Buijtenhuijs Robert, La Conférence nationale souveraine du Tchad (Paris, 1993), for a first hand account and preliminary analysis of the CNS.

3 For example, Groupe d'étude et de recherche sur la Démocratie et le développement économique et social', La Démocratisation par le hout. De la Conféence nationale sourveraine à la transition (N'Djaména, Centre d'études et de formation pour le développement, 1993).

4 Economist Intelligence Unit Country Report: Cameroon, CAR, Chad (London), 4th Quarter, 1994, p. 37.

5 Ibid. 1st and 3rd Quarters, 1994; Amnesty International Report, 1994 (London, 1994), pp. 92–5; and US Department of State, Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1993 (Washington, DC, 1994), pp. 52–9.

6 Colonel Abbas Koty was killed during his arrest for plotting a coup only six days after signing an agreement with the Déby Government in October 1993. The aforementioned ethnic groups and clans are all Northern and belie the simplistic misconception of an overarching North—South cleavage.

7 Economist Intelligence Unit Country Report, 1st Quarter, 1994, p. 37.

8 Ibid. 4th Quarter, 1994, pp. 34 and 39. According to Hardy Benjamin, ‘What Can Oil Do for Troubled Chad?’, in CSIS Africa Notes (Washington, DC), 159, 1994, p. 6, in order to cushion the immediate shock of the devaluation, France forgave Chad's debt, raised producer prices for cotton, limited price increases on essential commodities, and supported a modest salary increase in the civil service.

9 For a recent analysis of the oil factor in Chadian politics, see ibid. pp. 1–9.

10 Ibid. p. 9.

* Associate Professor of Political Science, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts. The views and analysis presented in this study stem from the author's conusltancy between December 1993 and January 1994 under contract with Associates in Rural Development (ARD, Inc.) for the United States Agency of Development Misson in Chad, and do not necessarily reflect the position of either US AID or any other organ of the American Government. A version of this article was delivered at the African Studies Association annual meeting in Toronto, November 1994.

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The Journal of Modern African Studies
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  • EISSN: 1469-7777
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