#Chad: Why #France Back Idris Deby- 14thNorth
A Chadian rebel group’s attempt to reach N’Djamena, Chad’s capital, in a bid to topple President Idriss Déby Itno this weekend is not only unlikely to succeed, but also will make Déby less likely to countenance loosening his political control.
The rebel group, the Force for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT, using the French acronym), is the latest in a long series of armed groups that have attempted to seize power since the 1960s. Most, including the FACT, have been associated with ethnic groups located in Northern and Eastern Chad near the Libyan and Sudanese borders.
They often have bases in either country, in the same manner that the FACT launched its offensive from Libya. Paris has sometimes stood aside in the past while rebels attempted to depose incumbent Chadian heads of state. This was the case with Déby’s predecessor, Hissène Habré, who successfully seized power in 1982.
Though Habré was a French ally, France allowed Déby to defeat him in 1990, and since then has occasionally stepped back in to block the more promising attempts by rebels to remove him.
Today France is unlikely to risk a change of leaders. It simply has too much at stake, with more than 5,000 French troops engaged in combat operations in the Sahel and Chadian troops playing critical roles in fighting Islamist extremists in Mali and the Lake Chad Basin.
The catch for France and Chad alike is that the rebel activity will likely only encourage Déby to continue to cling to power through whatever means necessary, a tendency on display recently in the heavy-handed tactics he has been using to cow the political opposition in his recent bid to win a sixth term. He is unlikely to suffer democratization or any sharing of power with Chad’s political opposition.