Jeune Afrique’s Series on Chad

Jeune Afrique has recently published a series on Chad called “Apres la tempete, s’ouvrir au monde” (“After the storm, opening up to the world”). As the articles are in French, and since Chad does not receive a lot of news coverage, I will summarize some of the most important articles for the benefit of Anglophone audiences, and provide links for those who read French. The central theme, or implication, of these articles, is that much of what goes on in Chad turns on the actions and preferences of President Idriss Deby, who took power in 1990. Deby’s coalition has (unsurprisingly) triumphed in presidential, legislative, and local elections held over the past fourteen months (French).

Two articles from the series provide macro-level narrative frameworks for understanding Chad. One, “Genese d’une nation” (“Birth of a Nation”) surveys Chadian history through the lens of a quotation from former French President Jacques Chirac, who called Chad “a space demarcated by the borders of its neighbors.” (There are of course other, more complimentary, ways to view Chadian history and nationhood.) The second, “La stabilite malgre tout” (“Stability Despite It All”), argues that Deby’s pragmatism, and the amicable relations he has built with both Libya’s new leaders and Sudan, have allowed Deby to concentrate on Chad’s internal problems, such as economic performance and social discontent.

A third article, “Sursauts de croissance” (“Flashes of Growth”), looks at the Chadian economy. Beyond the ups and downs of the country’s erratic growth, the author perceives several constants: relatively low inflation, and investment of oil revenues in infrastructure projects and local industries (made possible by relative peace in recent years). Economic decision-making occurs in an environment of opacity, as the president “alone arbitrates between the interests of the clans and of the lobbies.”

A fourth, “Frustrations dans l’opposition” (“Frustrations within the Opposition”) relates that the opposition, which won only 30 of 188 seats in January’s local elections, possesses “a certain cohesion” but feels that the presidential majority “wants, by every means, to intimidate them.”

Other articles profile opposition leader and former Deby ally Saleh Kebzabo and musician Kaar Kaas Sonn.

If I’ve committed any errors in translation, please let me know in the comments.

4 thoughts on “Jeune Afrique’s Series on Chad

  1. I suppose you already know this, but Jeune Afrique is widely known for its ink-for-cash policy, ie writing articles on demand for African governments eager to have some positive media coverage…

    • Actually I had not heard that before, so thanks for passing that on. That definitely puts the series in a different light, though I would say not all of the articles portray the regime or the country positively.

  2. It was notoriously close to Ben Ali….it’s had to make a lot of amends in the past 12 months or so because of it. I’ve never heard of it being particularly close to Deby though. Still, generally it’s not so bad on general issues and some of its reportages are really good…just read it with care, like Afrique-Asie and others.

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