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