Chad; A dialogue, but for what ?

The Transitional Military Council ( CMT ), a body set up the day after the death of President Idriss Déby Itno on April 19, 2021, and led by his son, Mahamat Idriss Déby known as ”  Kaka  “, aims, according to the charter defining its prerogatives , to run the country for a (renewable) period of eighteen months, to draw up a new constitution and to organize presidential and legislative elections. 

While he had called, in his first speech addressed to the nation on April 20, 2021, for the organization of an inclusive national dialogue which ”  will not evade any subject of national interest   , the head of the CMTtook action by announcing that it would be held on February 15. Announcement effect to appease a tense political situation  ? How to reassure donors about the smooth running of the transition  ? Be that as it may, this dialogue seems less marked, at first sight, by its rupture than by its continuity with the regime of Déby senior.

Divided into two parts, the preparations for the dialogue are aimed on the one hand at civil society and the political class, and on the other hand at rebel groups (commonly called in Chad “  politico-military  ”). The most famous of these is certainly the Front pour l’alternance et la concorde au Tchad ( FACT ) led by Mahamat Mahdi Ali, whose offensive last April led to the death of Idriss Déby Itno, no away from Mao City. The FACT is part of a myriad of more or less rival rebel groups which, following the Chadian-Sudanese diplomatic appeasement in 2010, moved their rear bases from Darfur to southern Libya (some elements having joined the ranks of the ex-Séléka in the Central African Republic).

The Military Command Council for the Salvation of the Republic ( CCMSR ), born of an internal division within FACT , and the Front of the Nation and Democracy and Justice in Chad ( FNDJT ), which brings together former leaders of the Movement for Democracy and Justice in Chad ( MDJT ) of Youssouf Togoïmi, as well as dissidents from CCMSR and FACT , also both straddle the Chadian-Libyan border.


Their invitation to the national dialogue, under the aegis of a special technical committee in charge of the modalities of their participation, is in itself a major event: indeed, the rebel groups had never been invited to previous national forums under the Deby era. Led by former head of state and ex-rebel leader Goukouni Weddeye1, the members of the committee, appointed by decree, are for the most part important senior military officers and are known to have been loyal to Idriss Déby Itno.

The technical committee met with the main politico-military representatives in Paris, Cairo and Doha in November 2021, and a second meeting is to be held on an unknown date in the Qatari capital in order to finalize preparations for the dialogue. A condition set by the politico-military groups for their participation, the general amnesty decreed in November for 39 political opponents and 257 former rebels (with the exception of FACT prisoners , whose situation is not clear) reinforces the idea of ​​a desire for appeasement.

A mode of historic dialogue between the State and the rebellion, these exchanges are commonplace if we remember, for example, the pardon that Idriss Déby Itno had granted, in the wake of his enthronement as Marshal of Chad in August 2020, to Hassan Boulmaye, former leader of the CCMSR , and Baba Laddé, former leader of the Popular Front for Recovery, which evolved in the north of the Central African Republic between 2008 and 20122. We should also remember the amnesty granted in 2011 to members of the Union of Forces for Democracy and Development ( UFDD ), who had tried to overthrow the regime in 2008.


This ballet of encounters and commitments does not rule out the military option. The repatriation of 600 soldiers who were in the three-border area (Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger), i.e. half of the Chadian contingent engaged in the joint G5-Sahel force, the purchase of 60 armored vehicles from the American- Emirati The Armored Group and a dozen others to the Turkish manufacturer Nurol Holding, or even the digging of a trench around N’Djamena (officially in anticipation of the rainy season), suggests a remilitarization of the regime in view of future offensives.

Moreover, beyond the first contacts, there is the question of the purposes of the dialogue with regard to the moral economy of the rebellions.3. What about the expectations of large groups of the population who benefit from insecurity and its economic dividends, revived in particular by the Tibesti gold rush  ? Difficult to quantify given its informal nature4, the artisanal (and often clandestine) mining of gold in the north of the country, which began in 2013, is causing significant tension between foreign and local gold miners, indigenous populations and armed men – rebels as well as soldiers with more or less practices less predatory5. By way of illustration, the recent arrest of a canton chief in Borkou who had accused the Chadian army of colluding with highway robbers in the region, demonstrates the multiplicity of actors benefiting from this informal economy.

The long history of the rebellions and their deep social roots raise more broad questions about the long-term modalities of political inclusion and economic distribution of the future Chadian state – or how to invent other modes of protest and social ascent that don’t take up arms…


Finally, the interplay of external support runs a high risk of interfering in the dialogue between the politico-military movements and the authorities, in a context of recomposition of the struggles for international influence. France, which endorsed the CMT coup from the start in the name of regional stability, must come to terms with the Russian presence among its Central African and Libyan neighbors.6. If the alliances are open, the fact remains that the hypothesis of Russian support for the rebels would reshuffle the cards of the French leadership in the region, which could decide, in reaction, to strengthen its support for the CMT .

Finally, the outcome of the negotiations, beyond any political agenda, will depend on the lucrativeness of the rallies – in other words the material reward that will be granted to the rebels in exchange for their loyalty. Convenient screen allowing each side to save time and increase the price of memberships, dialogue seems, ultimately , the surest way to anticipate future moves without revealing its cards.

Moreover, the methods of organization of the second part of the dialogue reveal the limits of the inclusion advocated by the regime. The seventy members of the Organizing Committee for the Inclusive National Dialogue – civil society activists, religious leaders and political leaders for the most part – were appointed in August 2021 by order of the Prime Minister, while the four- Twenty-three deputies of the National Transitional Council ( CNT ) in charge of the future vote on the constitution were appointed by presidential decree in September. These appointments give voice to certain representatives of civil society who have hitherto been little visible and include political opponents. But the question of their room for maneuver remains unresolved.

Each stage of the dialogue must indeed be approved by the CMT , and the requests formulated in particular by the African Union (which had proposed to include in the transition charter the prohibition for ”  Kaka  ” to stand for the future presidential election and the obligation to organize this election within a non-extendable period of eighteen months) were not accepted by the authorities.


The very nature of the transition is still disputed, mainly driven by the Wakit Tama coalition (“  the hour has come  ”, in Chadian Arabic) which calls for a military-civilian transition and a boycott of dialogue. But civil society is itself divided on the question of its participation, and the rallying of some of its emblematic figures such as Mahamat Nour Ibedou, defender of human rights, has seriously damaged the internal cohesion of the movement, already weakened by government repression: according to Amnesty International, between April 27 and May 19, 2021, at least sixteen people were killed during protests in N’Djamena and the southern town of Moundou ; on October 9, 2021, forty-five people were arrested and ten others injured for demonstrating at the call of the Wakit Tama coalition.

The CMT also faces a reinvigorated political opposition. Notwithstanding the regime’s various physical intimidations against members of the political party Les Transformateurs, the popularity of its leader, Succès Masra, has not waned, especially among young people, who were present in large numbers at his meetings (such as that of the 8 January 2022 which filled one of the largest football stadiums in the capital). Invited to Côte d’Ivoire by Laurent Gbagbo on the occasion of the launch of his new movement, the African People’s Party – Côte d’Ivoire ( PPA – CI ), in October 2021, Masra, doctor in economics from the Sorbonne, acquires, step by step, an international aura. Which is not necessarily to the taste of the CMT, which must deal with this potential political competitor.

Finally, the question of the purpose of this dialogue arises with regard to the content of the debates initiated. For example, the demands raised by the guests – handpicked – during the preparatory consultations which took place in October 2021 in N’Djamena, seem to evade certain major issues, such as the restructuring of the army, the restitution of property badly acquired by the Déby regime or even the code of ethics of the political class. More or less engulfed by power, this dialogue is often perceived as a veneer of legitimacy for a regime seeking international as well as national recognition. In N’Djamena, many evoke a ”  Déby sans Déby  ” style, which recalls the famous expression of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa:  Change everything so that nothing changes   .


The financing of the dialogue and more broadly of the transition – respectively estimated at 227 million and 1.3 billion euros according to the roadmap adopted by the government -, remains a thorny question that ”  Kaka  ” does not hesitate to transform into authoritative argument to explain his plausible continuation in power beyond the eighteen-month deadline. The state coffers are empty, and pledges are long overdue. France, under bilateral aid, has disbursed 15 million euros, and has convinced the European Union, which is nonetheless sensitive to the transition process, to release 40 million euros.

The recent loan of 570 million dollars (about 504 million euros) granted by the International Monetary Fund ( IMF ) under the new Extended Credit Facility ( ECF ) mechanism cannot pay off either the commercial debt of more than one billion dollars contracted with the Anglo-Swiss holding company Glencore7, nor the losses due to the slowdown in oil production following strikes by ExxonMobil staff, nor the shock of the pandemic. More or less dependent on the outcome of the private debt restructuring negotiations, Mahamat Idriss Déby therefore has limited economic room for manoeuvre. His visit in September 2021 to Qatar, a shareholder of Glencore and host country of the future pre-dialogue, aimed in particular to finance the latter and to unblock negotiations with the holding company.

Beyond the cost of the dialogue, it is a whole system of clientelist relations from which Déby’s son inherits and which he must maintain through a clever mix of material rewards and appointments to political or administrative posts. The various debt restructurings or credit facilities obtained in particular from France have so far not enabled the country to get out of its worrying situation (Chad is ranked 187th out of 189 in the index of human development), and have above all served to perpetuate a largely corrupt system.

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