Africa, Analysis, Side Feature

Q&A: Latest Political Developments in Chad

On 20/4/2021, the Chadian army announced the killing of Chadian President Idriss Deby in a battle in the north against rebels who had arrived from southern Libya, and announced the formation of a military council headed by the son of the murdered President, commander of the Presidential Guard, Mahamat Deby, for a transitional period of 18 months, and announced the dissolution of Parliament and the government, imposing a nationwide curfew in the evening and the closure of the country’s air and land ports. It called on all opposition forces for dialogue. What is the realty of what has happened and is happening in Chad, and where are the situations heading? What are the links of the rebel forces? What is the relationship of this to the international conflict?

To get a clear answer, we will review the following matters:

1- Presidential elections were held in Chad on 11 April 2021 and were boycotted by the opposition forces, who accused President Deby of fraud, silencing and preventing their leaders from running in the elections. On 19/04/2021, President Idriss Deby was declared a winner by 79.32% to rule the country for another six years, hours before he was injured in battles with the rebels. On 12/04/2021, the Front for Change and Concord announced its rejection of the elections, and advanced its forces stationed in southern Libya towards the Chadian capital, N’Djamena. The leader of the Front for Change and Concord, Mahamat Mahadi Ali, announced the start to advance, and his forces are estimated at about 1500 people who entered aboard hundreds of four-wheel-drive vehicles. They entered Chad from the city of Al-Jufra in southern Libya, where they are based in northern Chad on 12/04/2021, then they entered the state of Tibesti, then entered the province of Kanem, 400 km away from the capital N’Djamena. The Front announced on its Facebook page that “The elections that took place were a farce and called on the people to support it to liberate their homeland, Chad, and to put pressure on dictatorship.” and announced its seizure of garrisons near the Libyan border without resistance.

2- The Chadian army spokesman, General Azem Bermandoa Agouna, said on the official Chadian television on 20/4/2021: “The President of the Republic, Idriss Deby Itno, has just breathed his last while defending the territorial integrity on the battlefield. It is with deep bitterness that we announce to the Chadian people the death this Tuesday, April 20, 2021 of the Marshal of Chad.” He also announced the establishment of a military council, and named Mahamat Deby, son of the murdered president, as president of the Council, and announced the dissolution of the government and the National Assembly. The army spokesman said, “The Transitional Military Council headed by Mahamat Idriss Deby guarantees national independence, territorial integrity, national unity, respect for international treaties and agreements, and ensures the transition for a period of 18 months after which free, democratic and transparent elections will take place.” He referred to “The imposition of a nationwide curfew from 6pm to 5am and the closure of the country’s land and air borders”, and announced “A transitional charter that gives the transitional president broad powers and repeals the constitution.” Thus, the government, parliament and the constitution of the regime are abolished by the regime’s military establishment, and by the same men who are in charge of government, except for the murdered Deby. As the majority of the senior officers are from the family and relatives of the murdered president from the Zaghawa clan, which has extensions in Chad, Libya and Sudan. It is a divided tribe, as some of the rebels belong to this tribe. It is reported that his cousins ​​led the attack at the beginning of 2019 directed by Timan Erdimi in the name of the Union of Resistance Forces. And they would have nearly succeeded in their rebellion had it not been for the French intervention. Note that the new military council, which was formed under the leadership of Mahamat Deby, consists of 15 officers, including 8 from the Zaghawa tribe. The rebels declared their categorical rejection of the transitional military council, and the rebel spokesman said, “Our troops are en route towards N’Djamena, but we will allow 15-28 hours for Deby’s sons to bury their father, according to tradition.” They vowed to continue their rebellion until they reach the capital.

3- Idriss Deby himself led a rebellion in 1990 until he seized power in Chad and overthrew Hussein Habre (1982-1990), who turned against France and became an agent of America. Deby was a commander of the army, leading a rebellion with the support of France until he came to power, and was closely linked to France to protect his seat and remain in power. France had the biggest role in helping Deby defeat the unceasing rebellions. In February 2008, the rebel offensive was repelled by French support when they arrived at the gates of the presidential palace in the capital, N’Djamena. Deby himself had been participating with his soldiers in confronting the rebellions since 2006. But France had the biggest role in thwarting previous rebellions. It appears that this time France had not yet taken action to directly repel the recent rebellion, and that its role was in support of Deby’s forces; the “Front of Rotation and Accord”, which is itself the Front for Change and Concord and is known by the acronym FACT stated in its statement and published on the African Post page on 15/04/2021 that “FACT called for France to be neutral, noting that the flight of French aircraft over its sites can be interpreted as support for the Chadian president, as it is noticed that each flight of French aircraft is followed by the bombing by the government aircraft”. It appears that France saw that Deby’s forces were sufficient to repel the attack, but was surprised by his death and it was a heavy blow to it.

4- The death of Deby is a great loss for the French colonialist. A few hours after his death, the Elysee Palace statement said, “France has lost a brave friend … emphasizing the importance of transitioning under peaceful conditions in the spirit of dialogue with all political and civil society actors, and allowing the rapid restoration of inclusive governance based on civil institutions.” It expresses its strong attachment to Chad’s stability and territorial integrity. France expresses its sad condolences to the family of President Deby and the entire Chadian people”. French Foreign Minister Le Drian called for “A limited military transition that leads to a civilian and inclusive government.” Here, France declares its support for the transitional phase, and thus for the authority that took over. French government spokesman Gabriel Attal said “President Macron will take part in the funeral of the late Chadian President Deby” (France Press 21/4/2021), which indicates how important he was to maintain its influence but rather its colonization in Chad. His participation in the funeral also involved speaking with the son of the murdered president and other new leaders to confirm their loyalty to France.

5- French newspapers paid attention to the death of Deby on their pages published the day after his death. The newspaper La Carroix reported that “Deby’s death is a painful blow to French diplomacy,” and the Liberation Newspaper said, “France has become deprived of Deby after his death yesterday. He was a product of the French military administration and an ally of France in the region.” It added “But what is certain is that the French military operation Berkhan, which has been severely weakened in recent times, is in a difficult situation today”. And it wondered whether there were external forces behind the rebels. Thus, the French realize that there are major powers behind the rebellions. Their country is in a critical condition in the region and almost withdrew its forces from there due to the losses it incurred without achieving a victory since its direct intervention in the region in 2014, after the coup that took place in Mali in 2012 at the hands of US agents. And then last year, in 2020, pro-American officers staged a coup. In northern Chad, there is Libya, where America is working to extend its influence. Thus, France’s position became unsettled in the region.

6- Chad, as other African countries, from an international point of view is considered an independent state, but in reality, it is a French colony as it was before it gained formal independence in 1960 from France. The French colonial forces are stationed in it and the Chadian army soldiers are fighting for France and its colonial interests in the Sahel region. Its wealth and money go to France, as its currency, with the currency of 13 other African countries, is linked to the African Euro, which was previously the African Franc, where half of Chad’s money goes to the French Central Bank. France deploys 5,100 troops in Chad, from 4,500 troops a year ago, as part of a process known as the Burgan counter-terrorism force, and Chad is participating alongside it in the largest military force of the Sahel, which includes Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger under France’s supervision to preserve French influence in West and Central Africa, particularly in Mali. Yet, it (France) is between hope and despair from victory or even survival in the region, and its presence is seriously threatened, as America is pursuing it in the entire region. Voices began to rise calling for the withdrawal of this force due to loss of life among the French soldiers, as the death toll rose to 50, according to official statistics. It is working to strengthen the so-called Sahel forces to fight on its behalf, asking European countries for assistance, and using the UAE to finance it. But losing Deby is a big loss of this force. The Executive Secretariat of the G5 Sahel announced that it “Fully supports the transitional period announced in Chad following the death of President Idriss Deby, who was holding the rotating presidency of the group” … (Al-Jazeera, 22/04/2021). So, Chad is likely to the intensification of the international conflict over it, and America was able in the 1980s to buy Hussein Habre, so it came under the American influence, and then America lost its influence when Deby overthrew him, but it does not stop its attempts to return.

7- America has been monitoring the rebellion since its launch in Libya, and it announced on 18/04/2021 that “Armed non-governmental groups in northern Chad have moved south and appear to be heading toward N’Djamena,” the department said in a travel alert. “Due to their growing proximity to N’Djamena, and the possibility for violence in the city, non-essential U.S. government employees have been ordered to leave Chad by commercial airline”… (Al-Jazeera, 18/04/2021). After the Chadian president was killed, it announced through its U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price on 4/20/2021 that “Washington wants to see a transition in Chad that is consistent with its constitution after the death of President Idriss Deby on Monday”. He said, “Effective April 17th, the U.S. Embassy in Chad remains on ordered departure status” (Reuters, 20/04/2021). The next day, the State Department spokesman said: “Washington is gravely disturbed by the violence in Chad after the death of President Deby and is concerned by anything that would stand in the way of the democratic transition to power there … Washington is closely watching the political situation in Chad” (AFP, 21/04/2021). Thus, America is working to bring the elections closer and calls this the democratic transition of elections to create the atmosphere to deliver opposition to the government and end the French influence.

8- Several media outlets have indicated the relationship of the Chadian rebels with the forces of Haftar, the agent of America, and it is not new, but rather from before. On 12/2/2019, Reuters quoted French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian as saying: (“In response to President Idriss Deby, French military planes bombed an armed rebel convey crossed last week from Libya and penetrated into Chadian territory.” Le Drian told parliamentarians: “President Deby asked us in writing to intervene to prevent a coup and protect his country.”) And because these dangers that the American agent Haftar is pushing towards Chad are real, France is deploying a great force in the Chadian capital to defend its agent Idriss Deby, numbered about 5,000 troops! On 22/04/2021, Al-Jazeera quoted a source as saying that “The armed opposition has moved most of its camps from the border with Libya into Chad, and that opposition factions, including The Military Command Council for the Salvation of the Republic, are preparing to leave their sites in Libyan lands and move into Chadian territory within hours.”

9- From here it becomes clear that Chad is likely to see an intensification of the conflict between the regime forces and the rebel forces, as the two sides are linked to competing foreign colonial powers, namely France and America. Those who hold power are not easy to give up when they see that their fate is threatened and that behind them is a colonial state like France that supports them in order to preserve its influence and its colonialization in their countries, as it is a contributing factor for them to defend them so that they serve its colonial interests in Central and West Africa. Whereas, the rebels who aspire to reach power are supported by a colonial state like America seek to extend its influence in Chad and the region.

Muslim countries are an arena for conflict between the colonialists, and their sons are the fuel for the fire of this conflict, and their wealth goes to the colonists, while they continue to suffer poverty, deprivation, and disease outbreaks. And there is no salvation for the Muslims in Chad who are suffering from the fire of the international conflict on their country except by the movement of Muslims in North Africa and Sudan to establish the rule of Islam in their countries and unify them, and then move towards other African countries to liberate them one after another from the yoke of the colonists. Thus, Muslims must support those who are sincere, conscious, and strive to establish the Khilafah Rashidah (rightly guided Caliphate) on the method of Prophethood.

[وَعَدَ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مِنكُمْ وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ لَيَسْتَخْلِفَنَّهُم فِي الْأَرْضِ كَمَا اسْتَخْلَفَ الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ وَلَيُمَكِّنَنَّ لَهُمْ دِينَهُمُ الَّذِي ارْتَضَى لَهُمْ وَلَيُبَدِّلَنَّهُم مِّن بَعْدِ خَوْفِهِمْ أَمْنًا يَعْبُدُونَنِي لَا يُشْرِكُونَ بِي شَيْئًا وَمَن كَفَرَ بَعْدَ ذَلِكَ فَأُوْلَئِكَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ]

“Allah has promised those who have believed among you and done righteous deeds that He will surely grant them succession [to authority] upon the earth just as He granted it to those before them and that He will surely establish for them [therein] their religion which He has preferred for them and that He will surely substitute for them, after their fear, security, [for] they worship Me, not associating anything with Me. But whoever disbelieves after that – then those are the defiantly disobedient.” [An-Nur: 55]

13th Ramadan 1442 AH – 25/04/2021 CE