Chad: A New Conflict Resolution Framework
Chad: A New Conflict Resolution Framework
Table of Contents
  1. Executive Summary
Tchad : le choix de Mahamat Déby
Tchad : le choix de Mahamat Déby
Report 144 / Africa

Chad: A New Conflict Resolution Framework

The political and security crisis Chad faces is internal, and has been exacerbated rather than caused by the meddling of its Sudanese neighbours. Power has been monopolised by a Zaghawa military clan with President Idriss Déby at the top since 1990, leading to increased violence in political and social relations, ethnic tensions and distribution of the spoils of government on the basis of clan favouritism.

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Executive Summary

The political and security crisis Chad faces is internal, and has been exacerbated rather than caused by the meddling of its Sudanese neighbours. Power has been monopolised by a Zaghawa military clan with President Idriss Déby at the top since 1990, leading to increased violence in political and social relations, ethnic tensions and distribution of the spoils of government on the basis of clan favouritism. Neither return to a multi-party system in 1990, enhanced government revenues from newly exploited oil reserves since 2004, nor elections backed by Chad’s Western allies have brought democracy or improved governance. The international community must press for an internal reconciliation process focused on reforming the Chadian state, particularly its administration and security sector, and ending the armed insurgency. At the same time, a regional process must be revived to address longstanding disputes between Chad and Sudan and eliminate the pattern of proxy war and support for each other’s rebels.

These steps require a new approach toward national reconciliation. The political agreement signed in August 2007 between the government and the political opposition focused narrowly on electoral reforms and is incapable of providing the basis for the fundamental shifts of governance required. Major rebel attacks on N’Djamena just six months later showed that the agreement, signed without inclusive national consultations, cannot offer the way out of deep political crisis and end the armed rebellion. The single-minded emphasis on implementing that agreement by the European Union (EU), and France in particular, must be reconsidered. Chadians and the international community must understand that without a credible political negotiation leading to a process of administrative, economic and security sector reform, Chad will continue to be condemned to the permanent crises, alienation and recurring threats of power seizures through force that have haunted the country for decades.

Sudan’s repeated attacks against refugee camps and Darfur rebels in Chad added a new and worrying dimension to the crisis. Déby found a new lease of life in portraying himself as a key asset in the West’s strategy of containment against the Khartoum regime. His decision to back Darfur’s Sudanese rebels became a central element to his political survival strategy. It calmed the discontent of members of his Zaghawa clan, the Darfuri branch of which was harassed by Khartoum, and helped strengthen him militarily against his armed opponents, supported by the National Congress Party in Khartoum. Further, the 250,000 Darfur refugees living since 2004 in a dozen camps along the border have brought in major international humanitarian and security stabilisation efforts. The UN Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) and the European stabilisation mission (EUFOR) have been deployed to protect and police the refugee camps and secure their immediate environment.

To address the political and security crises within Chad and the regional instability, a three-track process of dialogue and substantive action is needed. A first track should build on the August 2007 agreement by launching new political negotiations with broadened participation, including civil society. These should produce a political accord to address national revenue sharing, decentralisation of state authority, security sector reform, judicial reforms to ensure accountability and combat human rights abuses and corruption, and restructuring of the state administration. A second negotiation track should focus on the armed rebellion and lead to a genuine, permanent ceasefire, the cantonment of rebel forces before their possible integration into the army and a joint verification mechanism. Rebel groups adhering to this process would have a right to participate in the first track. The same prominent African could facilitate both tracks under a UN mandate. A peacekeeping force – MINURCAT strengthened and with a new political mandate – should assist implementation of the agreements.

The third track should focus on the regional dimension of the conflict. On the basis of the Dakar agreement, a regional conflict resolution mechanism should be established by its facilitator, the Senegalese government, under supervision of the African Union (AU). It should address and seek to eliminate the support provided by Sudan and Chad to armed groups in each other’s country, improve security and protection for civilians along their common borders, attempt to halt arms trafficking and address the negative ramifications of these regional disputes for the Central African Republic (CAR). Neigh­bours of the three countries should act as guarantors of the signed provisions, and MINURCAT and the hybrid UN/AU operation in Darfur (UNAMID) should monitor violations on the borders and be part of a joint verification mechanism.

24 September 2008

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