A Police Census in Chad, With Encouragement from the World Bank and the IMF

Chad is conducting a census (French) of its police. Every officer must present himself or herself to be physically counted – otherwise, they will not receive their salaries.

The move makes sense on its face – who wants ghost workers, especially ghost police? – but it may provoke some real discontent. Viewed in context, this census seems like the latest in a wave of state measures that have upset public employees. Different groups of employees have been striking over the past few years, often over issues of pay but sometimes over broader complaints alleging a lack of basic fairness in the country. If the police do not see the census as fair or as fairly executed, further strikes may be in the cards. The police census, moreover, is apparently a kind of test exercise for a full census of all public employees.

Another part of the context is that according to RFI (see link above), this move comes with the encouragement of the World Bank, while according to VOA (French) it comes with the encouragement of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The World Bank pledged $1.1 billion in loans to Chad back in September 2017, which will support the implementation of Chad’s three-year National Development Plan (.pdf, French). The IMF pledged $312 million back in June 2017 under a three-year Extended Credit Facility. (Chad also obtained other large pledges from various donors and investors at a September 2017 roundtable in Paris.)

I could not find any language about the census in World Bank documents, but here is one brief mention in an IMF document (see .pdf available through this link, p. 3).

On the expenditure side, a key priority for the authorities has been to exercise stricter control over current spending. As part of these efforts, the authorities are committed to reducing the wage bill to a sustainable level in line with staff recommendations. In this regard, they have implemented several measures to contain the wage bill, including by introducing a hiring freeze in civil services, limiting wage increases, and reducing bonuses and benefits. Partly, as a result of these moves, social tensions have exacerbated, but have subsequently weakened following agreements reached between the government and unions that helped preserve positive prospects for reducing the wage bill. Going forward, they are planning a civil service census, while exploring avenues for modernizing the payroll management system and reforming the civil service to achieve increased cost efficiency and transparency.

Am I missing something, or is this just another round of structural adjustment?

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The New Mauritanian G5 Joint Force Commander and His Chadian Deputy

Late last week French and Mauritanian media that the new G5 Sahel Joint Force commander will be Mauritanian General Hanena Ould Sidi. He replaces Malian General Didier Dacko, whose removal was one outcome of the 2 July meeting of Sahelian and French heads of state in Nouakchott, Mauritania.

Ould Sidi is Mauritania’s Vice Chief of Army Staff. He is mentioned in a few brief news items at the Mauritanian Army’s website (example), but other than that I can’t find much information about him, either in French or in Arabic (here is the Arabic spelling of his name, for those curious).

La Tribune reports that at the G5 Sahel Joint Force, Ould Sidi’s deputy will be Chadian General Oumar Bikimo Jean, whose French-language Wikipedia page (which is pretty well sourced) is here.

Chad: The End of the Judicial Strike(?)

RFI (French) reports that as of yesterday, Chadian judicial personnel (lawyers, magistrates, bailiffs, etc.) halted their month-long strike, which I wrote a little about earlier this month. The strikers won some major political victories, including the sacking and arrest of the governor of Doba (French). The strike has raised fundamental issues of accountability – the immediate trigger was an incident in Doba where gendarmes reportedly attacked a lawyer. Given that these are systemic issues, RFI wisely notes that “clouds remain.” RFI quotes the head of the magistrates’ union: “There have been similar cases in the past. We continue to ask, to demand that the security and protection of magistrates really be a reality. This question is fundamental.”

The University of Florida’s Sahel Research Group, in their weekly roundup, has a few more items related to the strike and other judicial matters.

A Lawyers’ Strike in Chad

It’s been a while (.pdf, p. 13) since I’ve written about the periodic waves of strikes by professionals and students in Chad. Here is a recent strike worth noting (French):

On Thursday, 31 May, Chadian lawyers, bailiffs, and notaries joined magistrates in a country-wide strike in order to support a lawyer who was taken to task by security forces…The magistrates decided on the “cessation of all activities throughout the national territory” to protest against the aggression against a lawyer and his clients by the security forces on 22 May in Doba.

RFI (French) provides more details on the incident in Doba:

The Chadian judicial system is today paralyzed by an affair that has shaken it since 22 May. That Tuesday, in Doba, in the south of the country, the justice system released three men accused by the city’s highest political and military authorities of “complicity in associating with wrongdoers” linked with a murky affair of alleged arms possession. Except that the men were then attacked by gendarmes, arrested and beaten up publicly. The affair has since taken on a national dimension…Meeting in general assembly that Sunday, the Order of Lawyers decided to launch a strike in the tribunals for three days, together with a condition: that three high authorities of the oil town of Doba, including the governor and the head of the legion of the gendarmerie, be relieved of their functions and judged.

At least one source (French) reports that the governor has been sacked by presidential decree. If true, that would be a sign of the presidency’s real concern over these strikes. After all, these judicial personnel are highly educated and well-placed people making extremely serious and specific political demands. It’s not easy to ignore them.

 

Global Observatory Piece on Chad and Its Western Allies

I’m up at Global Observatory with a piece on Chad. Here’s an excerpt:

The Chadian government is also asking Western and African donors for more development funding. Chad will hold a roundtable in Paris in September to seek contributions for its newly adopted national development plan. Potential partners have already shown a willingness to participate: Deby recently hosted the vice president of the African Development Bank, which is financing projects in Chad’s electricity sector; the Bank confirmed that it will attend the Paris roundtable. The adoption of the development plan was one factor in the IMF’s decision to grant a new loan. The IMF did not make any allusion to Chad’s role in regional security, but other actors are clearly aware of the bargaining power that Chad has with donors because of its security role. Meeting the committee organizing the roundtable, France’s ambassador to Chad asked the Chadian government—according to the paraphrase of a Chadian news site—“to avoid playing the security card.” But the card has already been played, and with effect.

I welcome any comments you may have.

Chad and Exxon: A Follow-Up

In October, I wrote about how a Chadian court had ordered an oil consortium, headed by Exxon, to pay $74 billion in back taxes and fees. At the time, Bloomberg and other outlets suggested that that figure was merely one bid in negotiations between Chad and the oil companies. That prediction may have come true, although it’s hard to tell. Le Figaro/AFP reports (French) that the Chadian government and the consortium have signed an agreement that ends the suit against the consortium and grants the consortium a permit to operate until 2050 in the Doba basin (.pdf). However, the report adds that while the suit has been dropped, there are rumors that the consortium paid $200 million to the government. The government has denied those rumors.

More details, especially about the signing of the accord, here (French).