Tschad Country Report 2022
The Chadian President Idriss Déby-Itno had been in power since 1990 and is also commander-in-chief of the army. He was nominated marshal of Chad in June 2020 by parliament – where the party of the president holds the overwhelming majority – following a presidential military campaign allegedly against Boko Haram in the Lake Chad region. On August 1, 2020, on the sixtieth anniversary of independence, Déby was crowned marshal of Chad. The title did not previously exist, and this archaic episode reflects the balance of power relationships, as well as the key developments during the period under review. However, on April 20, 2021, at the end of the review period and thus not considered in the report, Déby was apparently killed in a clash with a rebel group. He was soon to be replaced by his son, army general, Mahamat Déby-Itno, violating the constitution that required the president of the parliament to succeed the late former president.
Chadian politics is defined by efforts to secure and maintain the president’s and the ruling elite’s hold on power and state resources. All reforms pursue this objective. A so-called National Inclusive Forum was charged to revise the constitution of 2018 in October 2020 but was not representative of Chadian society. The political opposition and civil society boycotted the forum, considering it a farce. They proposed an alternative forum, but this was prohibited by the authorities. The revisions agreed on in the national forum legitimized the president to nominate a vice president to act as his deputy (instead of the president of parliament as previously).
In 2020 legislative elections were rescheduled again to October 24, 2021. The political opposition is weak and fractured and offers no political alternative to the population. The movement of Succès Masra (The Transformers), which attracts young people in urban areas, has been refused registration as a party. The age limit to participate in the presidential elections was reduced from 45 to 40 years, but Masra is only 38 years old, and is therefore ineligible to run. Only the presidential elections will take place in accordance with the constitutional period, on April 11, 2021.
The government has used the COVID-19 pandemic – official numbers record only around 4,000 infections and up to 140 deaths – to further limit the freedom of the opposition and civil society and thus to contain frustration and protest. Health laws, sanitary regulations and curfews only applied to meetings and marches of the political opposition, human rights organizations, critical media and students. While Déby had already begun the electoral campaign, the opposition was forced to stay at home. It is not exaggerated to state that the pandemic helped the regime to strengthen its grip on power. The regime was also assisted by the decisions of the G20 and IMF to meet the financial strains caused by the pandemic through debt-service waivers and extensions of grant-based debt-service relief, as otherwise Chad would have been unable to repay loans. The macroeconomic performance continues to be poor. The government has failed to implement economic reforms, as demanded by the IMF and other international donors. Diversification of the economy is urgently required in order to decrease dependence on the international market’s oil prices. Members of the inner power circle are the beneficiaries of widespread corruption. Therefore, the issue has not been seriously addressed, despite repeated demands from the IMF.
Chad is actively engaged in the fight against Islamist terrorism in the Sahel. It participates in various operations and is a member of different alliances. The former colonial power France regards it as an indispensable ally, and as a result limits its criticisms of failing democratic reforms. At a national level, conflicts between farmers and pastoral groups continue to cause heavy death tolls in the absence of government interference or mediation between the different groups.
In the early 1990s, Chad took its first steps toward economic and political transformation after a devastating civil war. But conflict lines between the Muslim north and the Christian/Animist south continue to define Chad’s political landscape. Idriss Déby-Itno, an ethnic Zaghawa and former army chief of staff, came to power through a coup d’état in 1990 and will most likely be elected for his sixth presidential term in April 2021. Multiparty parliamentary elections in 1997 established the hegemony of his party, the Patriotic Salvation Movement (Mouvement Patriotique du Salut, MPS). The new constitution of 2018, slightly revised in 2020, turned Chad into a presidential republic without any noteworthy checks and balances.
Déby’s rule has been challenged by various political-military movements since the 1990s. Only in February 2008, however, did rebels almost succeed in overthrowing his regime. Since the 2010 peace accord with Sudan, no more major attacks challenged the government. However, coalitions like the Conseil de commandement militaire pour le salut de la République (Military Command Council for the Salvation of the Republic, CCMSR) or the UFR (Union des forces de la résistance) regularly carry out minor attacks near the Libyan border or try to head for N’Djamena. French military support for Déby prevented this in 2018 and again in 2019.
Terrorist attacks by Boko Haram took place for the first time on Chadian territory in 2015. In March 2020, the Chadian army suffered its greatest defeat ever in an attack attributed to Boko Haram. Many civilians from the Lake Chad region fell victim to a punitive action led by Déby. Chad’s military participates in fighting Boko Haram in Nigeria; Chad joined the Joint Force of the Group of Five of the Sahel (G5 Sahel) to combat terrorism. In 2020, Chad hosted around 464,000 refugees, 133,000 internally displaced persons and 45,000 returnees.
Steps toward a market economy started only in the 1990s. Chad successfully completed an enhanced structural adjustment facility (ESAF, 1996-1999) with the IMF. This set the stage for a poverty reduction and growth facility (PRGF, 2000-2003) which, along with a poverty reduction strategy paper (PRSP) completed in June 2003, qualified Chad for access to the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) debt relief initiative but received $1 billion in total debt relief only in 2015. Afterwards, the IMF and the Chadian government agreed upon several new programs. But the severe burden of an external debt to Swiss-based Glencore, which had lent Chad $1.5 billion in 2014, could not be repaid and the IMF put Extended Credit Facility (ECF) disbursements on hold until a deal between Glencore and Chad was made in February 2018. The National Development Plan (NDP) 2013 to 2015 was considered as Chad’s third PRSP. It focused on the creation of new productive capacities and opportunities for jobs and improved governance. Irregularities in the execution of these reforms, particularly with respect to arms purchases and corruption, signaled the government’s very limited commitment to market-economic reforms. The implementation suffered also because of the oil-price shock and regional security.
The current NDP 2017 to 2021 (the new one was promised for 2022) emphasizes economic diversification. It remains a major challenge to restore public finances and external accounts in a highly corrupt country. Therefore, hopes of substantial socioeconomic improvement in Chad, following a 2000 World Bank agreement to provide political backing for the construction of the Chad-Cameroon pipeline, also proved fruitless. Chad never ensured long-term development, pro-poor spending targets and economic diversification. By 2008, the World Bank pulled out of the oil project after Chad agreed to repay $140 million ahead of schedule. Following the first substantial expansion of oil production in 2003, Chad’s dependence on revenue from agrarian commodities, particularly cotton and cattle, has been replaced by a dependence on oil revenues. Furthermore, government revenue from customs and other taxes has been seriously undermined by the high level of corruption.
The Chadian state’s monopoly on power is established in almost every part of the country, but it is contested by Chadian political-military movements (armed opposition or rebel groups, depending on the point of view) operating from the neighboring countries of Libya and (to a lesser extent) Sudan, and by local so-called self-defense groups in the region of Miski (although the latter have mostly local interests and do not seek to overthrow Déby). The Chadian government denies the presence of political-military movements in neighboring border regions.
In early February 2019, rebels of the Union of Resistance Forces (l’Union des Forces de la Résistance (UFR)) tried to advance into Northern Chad from Libya. France intervened at the request of the Chadian authorities and pushed back the rebels (led by Déby´s nephew, Timane Erdimi) using airstrikes. In mid-February 2020, the CCMSR, the Military Command Council for the Salvation of the Republic (Conseil de Commandement Militaire pour le Salut de la République) launched an attack on the Tibesti region from Libya but was stopped by the Chadian army.
Despite the state of emergency in the region surrounding the Chadian shore of the Lake Chad region, the local population and Chadian army bases suffer regular attacks by the Islamist terror organization Boko Haram and its offsprings. These attacks have caused deaths and have forced locals to flee their villages and islands.
An attack on an army post attributed to Boko Haram in March 2020 officially caused the death of approximately 100 military personnel. President Déby, who is also commander-in-chief of the Chadian army, led his troops into the Lake Chad region. Official sources declared a victory over Boko Haram, but independent observers are not allowed into the region to verify this claim.
Monopoly on the use of force
Despite the ethnic and religious diversity of the country, Chadian citizenship and the concept of the nation-state are not contested by major groups in society, nor by the power elite. Although there are frustrations amongst major groups, primarily from the country’s southern regions, over bad governance and the political and economic power monopoly of one group, there is little questioning of the concept of Chad as a nation-state.
Citizenship and access to citizenship are not politically relevant issues. Apart from administrative shortcomings, there are few problems in access to citizenship, which holds true for otherwise marginalized groups. All citizens formally have the same civil rights.
Parliament passed the country’s first asylum law on December 23, 2020, affording refugees and asylum-seekers the right to protection.
Following the French example, Chad considers itself a secular state on the principle of “laïcité” as written in the first article of all constitutions since independence, which guarantees the separation of state and religion. Nevertheless, the constitution of 2018 includes the obligation for ministers and high government officials to take a religious oath (article 55). This oath was highly contested, as it went against secularity and was seen as excluding Christians (although the article did not specify a faith). The revised constitution of December 2020 abolished the religious oath.
Muslims (approximately 55% of the population) dominate the government and are overrepresented amongst government officials. Important Muslim and Christian holidays are declared public holidays, although there appears to be a growing pressure to neglect Sundays and Christian holidays. Interreligious dialogue between the religious leaders of the country takes place regularly, and the leaders preach peaceful coexistence. The leaders of the three religious groups (Muslims, Protestants and Catholics) are present at state ceremonies. President Déby selected the president of the High Council for Islamic Affairs in 2018; he also dominates the National Day for Prayer Reconciliation – originally established as a solemnly religious day in 2011.
In the Muslim community, most Chadians adhere to the Sufi Tijaniya(h) (Tidjanie) tradition. Only a minority follow beliefs associated with Wahhabism or Salafism – a trend that worries Tijanya and non-Muslim Chadians. Wahhabism is banned by the government. Wahhabi Muslims are not officially represented in the High Council for Islamic Affairs and in response demand their own body. The majority of Protestants are evangelical Christians. So far, religious extremists have found little political influence. However, religious ideas have some influence on societal issues such as the role of women and the adoption of family law. The Chadian government considers Islamist extremists a threat and is taking steps to keep Boko Haram out of Chadian territory.
No interference of religious dogmas
Since 2018 Chad’s administrative units comprise 23 provinces, 95 “départements” and 365 “communes.” The presence of state representatives does not guarantee that state services are also provided. Administrative structures are generally small, poorly funded and highly susceptible to corruption, at the expense of the population – be it in rural areas or the capital.
Security measures at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted access to administrative services.
Administration of communication, transport and other basic infrastructure are provided in N’Djamena and provincial towns, but not in rural regions. The state of the roads is degrading rapidly, thus slowing and complicating transport inside the country. A Chadian airline, providing flights inside the country since 2018, is unreliable.
Communications such as telephone and internet are costly, often interrupted by state authorities due to political protest, or nonexistent in remote regions.
Basic infrastructure, especially access to sanitation and water is extremely poor: in 2015, only 12% of the population had access to improved sanitation facilities, and 51% to a reliable water source. Therefore, it is extremely difficult for the population to maintain hygiene measures during the coronavirus pandemic. Basic health services can be found in towns. In more remote areas they are rare or nonexistent. Maternity and infant mortality rates in Chad are among the highest in the world.
Basic schooling is provided but is operated and paid for by parents themselves. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, schools were closed from March 20, 2020, until autumn 2020, with a phased reopening. Final exams took place as normal. January 2021 saw a renewed lockdown, the isolation of N’Djamena from the rest of the country, and a new closure of schools.
Universal suffrage and democratic elections are guaranteed in the constitution. However, only presidential elections are scheduled in accordance with the constitution. April 11, 2021, has been set as the date for the next presidential elections. Idriss Déby-Itno is head of state (and since his appointment in 2020, on the 60th anniversary of independence, as marshal of Chad). He and his MPS have been in power since 1990. The new constitution of 2018 allows Déby to stand twice more for elections (the mandate has been increased to six years) and – in case he is re-elected – retire in 2033, after 43 years as president.
Parliamentary elections last took place in 2011, although they were scheduled for 2015. They have been postponed repeatedly, allegedly because of a lack of financial resources or logistical difficulties (e.g., lack of current electoral lists), and are now scheduled for October 24, 2021. It cannot be assumed that the presidential and parliamentary elections will be free and fair: the composition of the national electoral authority is dominated by the government; (violent) intimidation of the opposition and its supporters occurs frequently; and only Déby and the ruling party MPS can use state funds for election campaigns. It is not yet clear if a restrictive party law (representation of a party in at least 10 out of the 13 provinces) will be in force in future elections. If so, the opposition will have no representatives in parliament after the elections.
Municipal elections took place only once, in 2012, and have been postponed several times since.
Free and fair elections
Veto powers are almost nonexistent in a state controlled by the president, his close family and the security apparatus. The government is supposedly democratically elected and has effective power to govern. Its majority belongs to the ruling party, headed by the state president and his allies. As commander-in-chief of the army and the head of the state, the president is the decision-maker. With the removal of the function of prime minister (traditionally coming from the south), even the semblance of some balance in the ruling class is gone. The revision of the constitution of 2018, following a suggestion by the National Dialogue Forum in 2020, introduced the post of a vice president. This role will be appointed by presidential decree and therefore be dependent on Déby. The security apparatus is not under civilian control and could remain something of a veto actor. However, genuine or staged coup attempts have occurred in recent years only within the president’s own power circle. The incursions of UFR rebels onto Chadian territory (February 2019 and 2020) are an example of this: the movement is led by Déby ́s nephew, Timane Erdimi. Repeated cabinet or military reshuffles and a new, revised constitution, dubbed “a constitutional coup d’état” by the opposition, consolidated the president’s power. The Catholic Church has attempted to act as a veto actor and speak out in pastoral letters but is quite isolated in a predominantly Islamic-dominated power circle.
Effective power to govern
The constitution provides for freedom of association and assembly. However, these rights can be limited at any time for members of civil society, the unions or the political opposition.
Following the introduction of the new constitution in May 2018, the ordinance regulating associations in Chad was amended. An ordinance of 2018 (Ordinance no.023/PR/2018 of June 27, 2018) imposes a number of restrictions on associations. These can easily be used by authorities to prohibit their formation, to dissolve them and to hinder their functioning. For example, the new law introduces a ban on “regionalist or community associations,” and requires associations to obtain authorization from the Ministry of Territorial Administration to begin operations and imposes hefty fines on people involved in the creation and administration of “unauthorized and unregistered associations.”
During the review period and pre-COVID-19 pandemic, demands from the opposition to conduct marches or to hold protest meetings were systematically denied. In contrast, the MPS were free to rally in support of the ruling power. The state of emergency following the outbreak of the pandemic that has been in place since the end of March 2020 (prolonged by parliament to March 2021 in October 2020), further reduced the association and assembly rights for the opposition, and further highlighted the double standards for supporters of the government and the opposition. In October 2020, a national forum organized by the government to revise the constitution was held. It was boycotted by civil society and the opposition. Their counter forum, proposed to be held in November 2020, was forbidden. As part of the prohibition, security forces surrounded the headquarters of opposition parties, human rights organizations, unions and the homes of opposition leaders. Members of civil society were arrested. Human rights associations such as the Chadian Convention for the Protection of Human Rights (Convention Tchadienne pour la Défense des Droits de L’Homme, CTDDH) were prevented from holding their annual assembly (in October 2020). A media training event was broken up by police in November 2020, and arrests were made.
The lockdown measures in N’Djamena were renewed on January 7, 2021. The lockdown measures and the isolation of the city are considered disproportionate. They were announced without warning, leaving a number of people stuck either in or outside the capital. The prohibition of meetings of more than 50 persons was directed at trade unions, critical civil society groups, and the political opposition during the pre-election campaign. Déby and the ruling MPS were permitted to hold gatherings. On February 2, 2021, public gatherings, with the exception of the president and his followers, were forbidden by a new rule against disturbing public order.
Association / assembly rights
Chad’s constitution allows for freedom of expression and of the press. These freedoms are however regularly curtailed and there is a persistent threat against those voicing criticism of the authorities. Critical journalists, bloggers and other commentators risk prosecution and imprisonment. Baradine Berdei Targuio, a human rights defender, has been in jail since January 24, 2020. Charges were only brought in August 2020: he was condemned to three years in prison in February 2021. His imprisonment is seen by Amnesty International as a result of his human rights work.
A media law of July 2020 now regulates the job description and recruitment criteria for journalists. On September 7, 2020, 12 (five French and seven Arabic) newspapers were banned for three months. It is highly likely that the independent media will not survive economically, and that only state media will be able to report in Chad in the future.
Private newspapers are mainly published in N’Djamena and some provincial towns. They appear in French or Arabic. The written press struggles to reach the rural population, which relies primarily on radio broadcasts. The state operates one radio station with several channels, while 38 stations are run privately or by religious organizations. The state owns the television station TéléTchad. Private television stations are Al-Nassour, launched in 2011, Electron TV, launched in 2013, and Tchelou TV, launched in 2019. In November 2020 two television and two radio stations formed the media group 2TNRTV. International channels can be received via satellite. The High Council of Communication, which is responsible for granting licenses, controls most radio content. Licensing fees are high. Critical reporting often leads to arrests, the seizure of newspapers, or the shutting down of newspapers or radio stations.
Internet access is available and widely used on smartphones by the younger generation, as well as by illiterate groups and the more affluent, literate and urban segments of the population. However, the internet in N’Djamena has been switched off repeatedly since July 22, 2020, meaning access to social media was only possible via a virtual proxy network (VPN), and internet access rendered completely unavailable in the provinces. Disruptions to internet access have been instigated by authorities in the past: internet watchdogs report that access to social media sites was censored for 16 months from March 2018.
Independent media are under constant political pressure; criticizing Déby can lead to detention. Moreover, arbitrary arrests are a constant threat for any journalist doing their job. The Union of Chadian Journalists (UTJ) reports six such arrests during the month of April 2020 alone (several arrests based on alleged breaches of COVID-19 pandemic lockdown measures).
Following the arrests at Radio FM Liberté to prevent the proposed citizens forum in November 2020, journalists organized a day without media on December 1, 2020 – a powerful symbol as this day was the 30th anniversary of Déby taking power.
Freedom of expression
The constitution prescribes the separation of powers. With the introduction of the Fourth Republic and of the new constitution in 2018, however, this separation has de facto disappeared. There is no efficient system of checks and balances. In May 2018, the office of prime minister was abolished; cabinet members and the judiciary are subordinate to the president, who rules through decrees and ordinances. Since the president’s party, the MPS, already has a majority in parliament, there is no need for the president to circumvent the legislature. Parliament approves all (direct or indirect) proposals and decisions made by its chairperson or the president of the country. The national forum of 2020 (October 29, 2020, to November 3, 2020) was – like the previous forum held in 2018 – supposed to draw up proposals for a constitutional amendment. It was boycotted by the opposition and civil society. Their alternative citizen forum was prevented from being held. On November 12, 2020, the cabinet, chaired by Déby, decided that the position of a vice president would be created and that this position would be appointed by the president himself. The vice president would act as the president’s deputy (previously the president of parliament held this role). Parliament accepted the proposal on December 4, 2020. Observers believe that Déby will nominate one of his sons as the vice president in order to prepare his succession.
Déby declared a state of sanitary emergency (état d’urgence sanitaire) on April 25, 2020, which granted power to health authorities and security forces to impose the curfew in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. On October 17, 2020, parliament voted for the third prolongation of these measures until March 10, 2021, that consists of a dusk-to-dawn curfew and a ban on public gatherings. According to the Global State of Democracy Indices, restrictive measures were imposed before the first case of COVID-19 was detected. On May 7, 2020, the minister of health was the subject of an interpellation. It remains doubtful whether the pandemic related lockdown measures meet the principles of proportionality and non-discrimination, especially because checks by parliament and judiciary are notoriously weak
Separation of powers
According to the constitution of 2018 the Supreme Court is the highest court; all other courts are subordinate to it, including the Constitutional Court and the National Court of Auditors. The president nominates the president of the Supreme Court and most of the judges. Thus, the judiciary has ceased to be institutionally differentiated even in formal terms, and its decisions and doctrine are subordinate to the government. It is vulnerable to executive intervention, lacks adequate resources and is permeated by corruption. Judges acting independently face severe intimidation or dismissal.
Government officials and other influential persons, especially members of the governing party/clan, often enjoy impunity or are exonerated despite guilt. If they are sentenced or fined, it indicates a behind-the-scenes power struggle and is not reflective of a fair and objective application of law and order.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, court proceedings were suspended and since January 2021, all public hearings were suspended until further notice.
Office holders breaking the law and engaging in corruption is a daily occurrence in Chad at all societal levels. Members of the inner power circle and the presidential clan in particular tend to abuse their power and threaten the population even physically. For example, an army colonel shot at two mechanics at a market in N´Djaména, killing one of them in July 2020. This episode drew significant public attention, and he was sentenced to five years in prison.
Corruption affects ordinary citizens in all aspects of their lives, be it legal procedures or police controls. During the state of emergency in Ouaddaï in 2019, security forces freely stole motorbikes and other possessions from the population.
Corruption is not prosecuted adequately under the law; on the contrary, it has become an almost accepted practice among the power circle and security forces to gain as much as possible for as long as possible. For the impoverished population corruption poses a constant threat.
Prosecution of office abuse
Civil rights are guaranteed by the constitution. The first paragraph of the new constitution of 2018 enshrines the secular character of the state. The equality of men and women is emphasized, and propaganda with an ethnic, tribal, regional or religious basis is forbidden. De facto, however, civil rights exist on paper only. Women’s rights are routinely violated. Cases of abuse or domestic violence are rarely investigated by authorities, and so women have nowhere to turn for shelter. Homosexuality is widely considered to be incompatible with tradition and religion, a view espoused by President Déby in a recent interview. The penal code of December 12, 2016, made homosexuality a petty offense rather than a crime (as it had been defined in the 2014 version). The new penal code also forbade underage marriages. The death penalty was abolished in 2014 but authorized for terrorist crimes after the Boko Haram attacks in 2015. On April 28, 2020, the death penalty was abolished by parliament.
In general, citizens are at the mercy of arbitrary actions by state authorities. Members of the opposition, the civil society, and unions fear arrests and detentions without due process under the rule of law. Human rights organizations try to generate publicity for some cases.
Emergency laws implemented due to the COVID-19 pandemic reinforce the environment of general insecurity and arbitrariness.
On paper, all generally accepted democratic institutions exist in Chad – national government, parliament, judiciary and public administration. After the national forum 2020, a decision was taken to create a Senate as a second chamber.
However, the inefficiency of these democratic institutions is closely linked to their lack of democratic legitimacy.
The last parliamentary elections were held in 2011. They were postponed repeatedly and are now scheduled for October 24, 2021. Most MPs belong to the presidential party and tend to rubber stamp decisions by the president. Only very few members of the opposition are able to raise their voice and garner some attention. Recently, Succès Masra and his political movement “Les transformateurs” have become popular outside parliament. But they are not permitted to register legally as a party.
Government, judiciary and to a lesser extent the public administration, are dependent on Déby. Members of the government, judges and in future the vice president are nominated by the president and are therefore dependent on his good will and cannot be seen to be independent. Independent decisions can result in dismissal. Déby fills the most important positions with his own or his wife’s siblings to maintain his grip on power.
Performance of democratic institutions
Institutions in Chad are democratic in name only; therefore it is not an exaggeration to say that the ruling power simply uses them as a facade. However, the demand for democratic institutions and procedures is the only way relevant political actors of the opposition and civil society can express their political opinion and discontent. At the same time, the government pretends to follow democratic procedures in order to present a democratic image to the outside world. The national forum of October 2020 and the subsequent debate over its conclusions can serve as an example. Despite the boycott of the forum by the opposition parties, unions and civil society organizations, it was still held without any legitimacy. Nevertheless, the results were first discussed within the Council of Ministers and then given to parliament to approve.
The political opposition and its leaders, as well as human rights organizations and the independent press, are constantly threatened. For example, the opposition’s party headquarters was surrounded by security forces during the National Forum. Succès Masra has attempted to register his movement as a political party since 2019 but has constantly been denied. The result of which is that “les transformateurs” will be unlikely to participate in the next elections.
Political leaders outside the country - be it political or so-called politico-military opposition - call for democratic change, but their commitment to democratic institutions is difficult to assess. Some of them have previously been members of the current inner power circle, like Déby’s twin nephews Tom and Timane Erdimi.
With such little respect already for democratic institutions and their democratic functioning, the COVID-19 pandemic has made little difference in this area.
Commitment to democratic institutions
The existence of a multiparty system is recognized by law. A party law regulates the admission, legal recognition and financing of political parties. However, admission is already a political decision, as demonstrated by the case of the political movement led by Succès Masra, “the Transformers” (les Transformateurs), whose registration as a political party is being obstructed by the government. 220 political parties were registered in Chad at the end of 2019.
The country’s president is also chairman of the ruling MPS; it is the only party operating nationwide, but it also has a strong ethnic dimension, with its leadership positions filled by members from the president’s ethnic group (Zaghawa, especially the Bideyat clan), from Chadian Arabs, Toubou and Goran. A number of parties are founded by people close to the government, so-called allies, and this serves to muddy the political party landscape. The political opposition is weak, predominantly old, and divided. This “real” opposition is mainly personality-based and has ethnoregional roots. Ideology does not play a noteworthy role in political parties in Chad. Therefore, opposition parties tend to only achieve respectable electoral results in the region of origin of their respective party leaders. The most important opposition party is the National Union for Development and Renewal (Union Nationale pour le Développement et le Renouveau, UNDR), led by Saleh Kebzabo (who founded it almost three decades ago), which has its greatest support in the Lac Léré area in Mayo-Kebbi. The Party for Liberty and Development (Parti pour les Libertés et le Développement, PLD) has most of its support in the East, especially from Ouaddaï. Since Ibni Oumar’s disappearance (presumably by security forces) in February 2008, it has lost some of its influence, and its general secretary, Mahamat Ahmad Alhabo, is still subject to intimidation. Succès Masra and his movement Les Transformateurs, which is still not recognized as a political party, are gaining popularity among youth in the capital and allegedly in other urban centers. The fragmentation of the opposition manifests itself in various alliances and associations.
As the political opposition, civil society is weak and fragmented. Cooperation exists only to a limited extent between organizations whose leaders struggle to trust each other in an environment characterized by corruption and co-optation by the regime. Human rights organizations – with the exception of the government-sponsored national human rights organization – and NGOs that focus on peaceful cohabitation or women’s and youth rights make an important contribution to societal issues but are often undermined by institutionalized pseudo-representative groups financed by the government. An important actor is the Big Heart Foundation (Foundation Grand Cœur) led by First Lady Hinda Déby-Itno.
Human rights organizations are often the only witnesses and able to attract limited international attention toward human rights violations. The safety of their employees depends on the level of international awareness.
The constitution and labor code permit the foundation of and membership in trade unions, which are organized under three umbrella unions. The Syndicate of Trade Unions of Chad (Union des Syndicats du Tchad, UST) represents 30 trade unions and associations. It repeatedly called for boycotts and strikes that have been well supported. The authorities have frequently sought to weaken the unions by threatening and denigrating their leaders. The COVID-19 pandemic paralyzed demonstrations by students in 2020 and those of all other opposition groups through the prohibition of gatherings of more than 50 people.
Given the lack of representative survey data all over the country, it is difficult to evaluate the population’s attitudes toward democracy in general or toward individual institutions. Social media reflects a high degree of frustration among the young population. A number of Chadian online newspapers frequently criticize the undemocratic functioning of the state. Afrobarometer does not conduct surveys in Chad. However, a survey conducted in five major cities in Chad by the Arnold-Bergstraesser-Institute in 2015 points to relatively high levels of consent to the idea of liberal democracy, despite the authoritarian character of the regime. This survey found that 56% of respondents had overwhelmingly democratic attitudes, while 38% held partially undemocratic views, and 5% undemocratic views. According to the study, public dissatisfaction with government policies is high. However, just over one third of respondents agreed with the statement that the “government would do the right thing.” Generally, the population, and especially young people, are upset about the political situation, their own increasing poverty and their daily struggle to survive. According to his own statements, Masra (leader of the political movement Les Transformateurs) garners most of his support from the youth.
Approval of democracy
Social self-organization and the creation of social capital do occur. Some 20,000 cooperative groupings operate in the country but are mainly concentrated at the village and district levels. Small saving groups, primarily comprising women working locally or with their church, try to create some sort of capital for their members. Parents associations employ 70% of the teachers in Chad and play an important role in supporting the educational system. However, Chad’s long history of violent intercultural conflicts means that there is very little trust among the population, and intercultural and interreligious tensions continue to persist under the surface. Generally, people organize along ethnic lines or according to religious identities.
At the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, youth groups, church organizations, and Chadians living abroad in particular, demonstrated a high level of solidarity in leading information campaigns concerning safety and hygiene measures (an example being an umbrella group called l’Action Citoyenne Contre le Covid-19).
Since 2000 Chad’s HDI has increased by 34.6% but it remains one of the least developed countries in the world with a very low value of 0.398 (2019). Chad was ranked 187 out of 189 countries, just above the Central African Republic and Niger. The overall loss in HDI score due to inequality was 37.7% (2018). All indicators confirm the high level of poverty affecting large segments of the population. This situation has deteriorated further, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, a fact that only appears in negative economic predictions by the IMF and other bodies. In 2011, 66.3% of the population was living below the poverty line of $3.20 per day. The 2020 Global Hunger Index value of 44.7 reflects a steady decline in poverty since 2000 (50.9). Nevertheless, the country is ranked last in the index and has “alarming” levels of hunger. The Gini coefficient of 43.3 (2011) illustrates the unequal distribution of income. Oil and state revenues tend to rest in the hands of the ruling elite and are not used for poverty reduction. Rural areas are most affected by poverty. The rural population and some of the urban population (23%) primarily make a living from subsistence farming or livestock breeding.
The level of socioeconomic exclusion based on gender is extremely high. With a score of 0.710, Chad again held one of the three last places worldwide on the 2019 Gender Inequality Index, above Papua New Guinea and Yemen. Female and male expected years of schooling for children are 5.9 and 8.8 respectively. Generally, Chad lacks the socioeconomic prerequisites to afford its citizens an adequate freedom of choice. The modest economic growth rate at the beginning of the 2010s was due to oil revenues, but this flatlined with the fall in world oil prices. The government has completely neglected economic diversification and has remained a rentier state, redistributing wealth within the country’s power circle. Chad’s oil revenues have benefited only a small part of the population. Social marginalization is structurally entrenched and is both qualitatively and quantitatively extensive.
Market-based competition is underdeveloped in Chad, and the institutional framework is weak and inconsistent. The World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2020 records a small improvement in the reduction of procedures to start a business from 13 (2008) to 8 (2019), but the number of days (58) and the costs (169.3% GNI per capita) remain high It ranked Chad 182 out of 190 countries. In the Heritage Foundation’s 2020 Index of Economic Freedom, Chad achieved a moderate improvement of 0.3% and ranked 161 out of 180 countries in the category “mostly unfree,” but remained last out of 141 countries in the World Economic Forum’s 2019 Global Competitiveness Index.
Several structural factors impede the establishment of a market-based economy. The economy relies highly on the informal and subsistence agricultural sector, herding, and fishing, which together account for over 40% of GDP and employs approximately 80% of the population. However, as in the past, the ruling elite remains the biggest obstacle, as the corrupt structures within the governing system deter sustainable investments. Other factors include poorly functioning public institutions, lack of venture capital, an unwelcoming regulatory environment, widespread corruption and patronage, serious shortcomings in the rule of law, and costly access to unreliable energy. These can all be linked to the lack of will of the elite to support equal opportunities for large sections of the population.
The few private companies that exist must deal with high taxes. Government contracts, for example, for construction work, are part of the patronage system and are awarded to those in the ruling elite. The private sector remains insufficient and so far, privatization has predominantly served to enable members of the ruling elite to gain senior management positions and plunder former state-owned companies that are left struggling to survive.
Chad is a member of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC), whose six member states share a common central bank and a common currency pegged to the euro. The CEMAC has improved access to credit information by establishing a framework for the licensing and operation of credit bureaus.
As a member of the CEMAC, Chad is part of an economic community promoting regional cooperation. This includes a Regional Competition Agreement among its members Cameroon, Gabon, the Central African Republic and Chad. Operating according to a “two-tiered” model – as classified by the OECD – Chad has two separate levels of competition policy jurisdictions: the regional level, where competition infringements with regional impact are investigated by the regional competition authority, and the national level, which concerns cases with a national dimension. However, as opposed to Cameroon, Gabon and the Central African Republic, Chad does not have national competition legislation. Parliament approved a law on competition in 2014 which included the creation of a council of competition (article 35, law nr.043/OR/2014). Subsequently, the Council of Ministers adopted a decree in 2018 on the creation of a council of competition to enforce antitrust policies. Another decree, on March 12, 2019, finally nominated 15 members for the National Competition Council (Conseil National de la Concurrence). Chad is not a member of the International Competition Network (ICN). The government regulates the formation of monopolies and oligopolies inconsistently.
The state and foreign investors dominate the few market sectors in Chad. The state owns the country’s only water and electricity companies. The state-owned Société Cotonnière du Tchad Société Nouvelle, or CotonTchad S.N., has a monopoly on the marketing of cotton, the principal export commodity after oil and cattle. In its search for cash, the Chadian state sold 60% of this enterprise to the multinational Singaporean Olam in April 2018. The Chadian telecommunication society (Société des Télécommunications de Tchad – Sotel) was privatized in March 2014. The oil sector is dominated by the Chinese National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and an international consortium comprising ExxonMobil affiliate EssoChad, Petronas and ChevronTexaco.
In principle, trade is liberalized. Chad has been a member of the WTO since October 19, 1996, and a member of GATT since July 12, 1963. Its participation in international trade is very limited with regard to both imports and exports. In 2018, Chad ranked 138 in total exports and 180 in total imports. According to the WTO (2018) the ratio of export of goods to GDP is 30.4%. The simple average Most Favored Nation (MFN) tariff applied was 14.3%.
Protectionist measures, import quotas and export limitations defined by law do not exist. Landlocked Chad was one of the first countries to ratify the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) in 2018. While the AfCFTA was supposed to come into force in May 2019, it was only implemented on January 1, 2021.
The greatest barrier to the development of a favorable atmosphere for an open trade market is the overburdened bureaucracy and the high level of corruption at all levels affecting import and export. A National Investment and Export Agency (ANIE) and a one-stop shop should simplify procedures. In addition to the adoption of a National Investment Charter, Chad has set up a Public-Private Dialogue Forum (FODEP), and introduced fixed tariffs for the creation, modification and renewal of business certificates.
The official collection of import taxes at the capital’s entry point at the Cameroon-Chadian border is largely ineffective. The head of customs has always been someone close to the president. Since October 2018 it has been the president’s nephew, Ousman Adam Dicki (with one of his predecessors being the president´s brother, Salaye Déby, who was arrested in 2015). Import costs are very high despite Chad’s dependence on imported goods. The IMF has recommended that the government lower tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade, as well as reduce the number of customs procedures. Difficult climate and road conditions add to the rising costs of trade into and out of Chad. Because of its landlocked location, most imports and exports use the few roads, of mainly poor quality, which are not navigable for part of the year. Infrastructural constraints, roadblocks, corruption, cumbersome bureaucracy, and the closure of Chad’s borders with Nigeria and Cameroon due to the threat of terrorism further hinder trade.
Liberalization of foreign trade
There are currently 10 commercial banks operating in Chad. The Ecobank Chad also runs an Islamic department to provide Shariah-compliant products. The regional BEAC (Banque des États de l’Afrique Centrale), which is backed by the French treasury, acts as the central bank. Since its independence, Chad has been a member of CEMAC. The member states (Cameroon, CAR, Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon) share the central African franc (XAF) as a common currency, which is fixed to the Euro.
The Central African Banking Commission (COBAC) regulates the banking system. COBAC has permitted banks to use their capital conservation buffers of 2.5% to absorb COVID-19 pandemic-related losses.
The Chadian banking system is limited in services provided and size. Credit from commercial banks is available on market terms, which average between 16% and 25% for short-term loans. The IMF stated in August 2020 that several banks were experiencing constrained liquidity and that the sector’s capital adequacy ratio had slightly deteriorated. In 2018, the banks were capitalized with a capital adequacy ratio of 19.1%.
The majority of bank assets are held by foreign banks (Société Générale, UBA and Ecobank), and only a third by a government-controlled bank. In 2018, the bank capital to assets ratio declined to 11.3% and again to 9.7% in 2019. Non-performing loans increased from 20.9% in 2016 to 28.6% in 2018, and 22.9% in 2019. It can be assumed that the COVID-19 pandemic will lead to a further deterioration of the economy, which is already vulnerable due to the country’s high dependence on oil.
As interest rates are high, most citizens do not rely on banking but on the private sector. Therefore, most of the personal and small business financial transactions (over 90%) occur outside the formal banking system. There has been an improvement in information regarding access to credit after Chad established a framework through the CEMAC concerning the licensing and operation of credit bureaus.
The regional central bank BEAC is responsible for monetary policy for its member states. Therefore, Chad cannot pursue independent policies with regard to inflation, currency or foreign exchange rates. The regional currency, the central African franc (XAF), is pegged to the euro. The BEAC seeks to limit inflation and Chad has usually experienced inflation below the 3% tolerance threshold set in the CEMAC zone, although the inflation rate can be highly volatile, oscillating between -1.5% and 7.5% over the last decade. In the pre-COVID-19 pandemic period, inflation trends were primarily linked to the country’s dependence on the international oil market, as well as economic recession and security issues in the region. The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the situation. Inflation fell from 4.3% in 2018 to -1.0% in 2019 but rose to 2.9% in 2020 due to supply-chain disruptions in connection with the pandemic, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit. It forecasts inflation to rise again in 2021 (3.1%) and 2022 (3.3%), thus surpassing the CEMAC’s 3% target. It predicts that cross-border trade with Cameroon and Nigeria may continue to be interrupted and low rainfall may prevent high agricultural production. The IMF predicts average annual inflation for 2020 at 4.5%.
Figures on the real effective exchange rate are not available.
The Chadian economy relies heavily on the oil sector, and the government has neglected the diversification of the economy and revenues despite international donors’ advice. The country still has not recovered from the oil price shock of 2014/15. The nominal GDP that amounted to $14 billion in 2014, was $11.2 billion in 2018 and $11.3 billion in 2019. The last National Development Plan, covering 2017 to 2021, emphasized strengthening non-oil sector recovery and the private sector – so far with no visible results. In October 2020, the government promised a new NDP for 2022.
The IMF has repeatedly recommended improvements to fiscal stability such as ending public banks’ financing of the budget in order to reduce the high levels of non-performing loans, improving banking sector liquidity and anti-corruption measures.
After successfully revising the contract with the Switzerland-based mining firm Glencore in 2018 to repay the loan under easier conditions, the Chadian government was able to repay $95.0 million in 2019. However, it is unlikely to be able to repay the $115.0 million agreed upon for 2020, and it has asked for a waiver. Chad also negotiated with Angola and Equatorial Guinea to settle loans with payments of cattle – an illustration of its lack of liquidity.
There is no transparency over state revenues or government spending, although the available numbers suggest that government spending amounted to 3.6% of GDP in 2018 and 2019. In 2019, public debt amounted to 44.3% of GDP, falling from 49.1% in 2018 and 50.3% in 2017. External debt was almost at the same level in 2018 ($3,523 million) and 2019 ($3,571 million) but has risen considerably since 2010 ($2,158 million). The total debt service was reduced from $177.0 million in 2018 to $157.0 million in 2019, although this represented an increase from the $126 million in 2017. Total reserves amounted to $147.8 million in 2018.
Data on the current account balance and lending and borrowing are not available.
According to the IMF, the costs of financing COVID-19 health-related expenditure was 0.8% of non-oil GDP. In April 2020, the World Bank approved a $16.9 million International Development Association (IDA) grant to Chad to fund a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Chad canceled an extended credit facility (ECF) that was due to expire in the third quarter of 2020. Chad was also eligible for the temporary suspension of debt-service payments by the G20 in June 2020, saving 0.6% of 2019 GDP ($65.4 million). A supplementary budget was adopted in August 2020.
In January 2021, Chad became the first country to apply for debt restructuring with the G20.
In addition, the IMF and Chad agreed on a new medium-term financing program worth approximately $560 million under the IMF´s Extended Credit Facility and Extended Fund Facility which is still awaiting approval from the executive board.
The Chadian constitution guarantees under article 45 that private property is inviolable and sacred. Expropriation is only permitted in the public interest; the law guarantees fair and prior compensation. However, as often in the Chadian context, despite well-defined laws, their enforcement lacks coherence and political will. The existence of Islamic and customary law alongside official law complicates the legal aspects even further. Therefore, the protection of property rights is weak. The 2020 International Property Rights Index ranked Chad 120 out of 129 countries.
From 2000 onwards, since the Chad-Cameroon Oil Pipeline and the occupation of land by international oil firms began, it has been evident that political will to access to land is at the expense of the local population and any notion of fair compensation. This pattern persists in other areas, be it the destruction of houses and shops in the capital or other towns without prior warning, presumably because of upgrading efforts or street work, or land grabbing in rural regions by members of the ruling elite. In the rural regions customary law prevails and land titles do not exist. Therefore, it is almost impossible for the population to prevent occupation or confiscation of their land. Close alliances between members of powerful individuals and groups and some corrupt members of the notary system facilitate the de facto expropriation of land.
Changing climate conditions and lack of access to scarce resources has aggravated land disputes, as is clearly evident in the conflicts between farming and herding communities. However, as the ruling elite increasingly invests in animal herding, with some members the owners of large herds, it is difficult for the farming population to assert their rights.
The security apparatus often seizes private property from citizens, such as cars or motorbikes.
The private sector is weak, although private companies can operate freely. However, bureaucratic and political barriers, socioeconomic obstacles as well as widespread corruption hinder the development of a private sector. The nouveau riche members within the ruling circle are unwilling to invest sustainably into businesses, and Chad lacks a significant urban middle class. For willing investors, there is little legal security over their investments to reassure them.
The World Bank’s 2020 Doing Business Report, with data from May 2019, ranked Chad 182 out of 190 countries in its ease of doing business ranking. It takes 58 days, eight procedures and involves large costs on the entrepreneur to start a business. However, there are small improvements, as Chad has halved the registration fee and made enforcing contracts easier by adopting a law that regulates all aspects of mediation as an alternative dispute mechanism. It also reduced the time required for the registration of property, by reducing needed time for property transfers. Investment is inhibited by the difficulty experienced by Chadian nationals in accessing credit, as well as state interference, high level of corruption, inadequate transport and energy infrastructure, lack of technical expertise, burdensome taxes and underdeveloped markets. Chad supports foreign direct investment. Foreigners can own companies up to a share of capital of $2,060,000. The privatization of state enterprises has shown some progress, but the state has also established new enterprises. State companies offer valuable opportunities for patronage and corruption that favors their nonfunctioning. The parastatal enterprise CotonTchad that dominates the important cotton sector was privatized in 2018. The state has retained control of the country’s water and electricity providers.
The state has not taken any measures to save any companies threatened with bankruptcy (even during the COVID-19 pandemic).
The majority of the population of Chad lacks public safety nets. Comprehensible pertinent legislation does not exist. Only a small group of government, military and parastatal enterprise employees or those few working for development organizations benefit from social safety nets. Access to positions in these sectors is predominantly subject to patronage and corruption. Chad ratified the ILO Convention No. 102 on minimum standards of social security and No. 122 on employment policy in 2015. However, as the majority of the population is without employment, the convention is not applicable.
Two security nets do function more or less: the national pension fund (Caisse Nationale des Retraités) and a form of unemployment fund (Caisse Nationale de Prévoyance Sociale). Preconditions for receiving benefits are difficult to meet, and the two funds are highly prone to corruption and the absence or disappearance of funds. Rightful beneficiaries hardly ever receive the entire amount of their assistance but must share it with officials.
The majority of the population relies entirely on the informal sector and ethnic, clan and family structures to survive. However, the social crisis precipitated by the substantial decline of the oil price has worsened the situation and has been further exacerbated by the pandemic. Therefore, the financial situation of the few people in paid positions has become more difficult. They struggle to survive and are unable to fulfill their social obligations to their impoverished extended family members. The limited aid and financial measures offered by the government, such as food distribution programs or tax reductions for imported goods, have done little to alleviate the suffering of the population. Only the group of privileged persons who have access to running water and electricity can benefit from the often mentioned temporary suspension of payments of electricity and water bills. This did not apply to the majority of the population.
Health infrastructure and services are poorly developed, especially in rural areas. Hospitals all over the country lack qualified medical staff. Where health facilities do exist, the comparatively high costs of services and drugs often hinder necessary treatment. Government spending on health amounted to 0.7% of GDP in 2017 and has been declining since 2014. On many occasions, aid organizations step in, but they fully compensate for the lack of public health care. Life expectancy in 2018 was 54.0 years.
To respond to the pandemic, the government trained medical and technical staff, purchased some medical equipment and constructed seven health centers in remote areas and mobile hospitals. China donated six containers for patients’ rooms.
Social safety nets
The constitution calls for equality before the law and forbids discrimination on ethnic, religious or gender-based grounds. However, these provisions have almost no relevance in everyday life. Chadian society is highly stratified, and select members of ethnic groups close to the ruling Déby clan enjoy distinct advantages compared to southerners and foreigners. As ethnic and religious affiliations are in most cases linked, Christians belonging to southern groups feel increasingly marginalized. Girls and women lack adequate access to educational institutions and public office. The woefully inadequate education sector is barely functioning and costs to parents for educating their children are high. Chad is rated 160 out of 162 countries in the Gender Inequality Index. Gender inequality is visible at an early age. The literacy rate has declined drastically to 14.0% for women and 31.3% for men, with an overall average of 22.3% (in 2016). The Gender Parity Index for the ratio of female to male enrollment in private and public schools is 0.8 at primary level, 0.5 at secondary and 0.3 at tertiary level. Some 89.2% of girls are enrolled in primary school, 20.6% in secondary school, and just 3.3% at the tertiary level. Women make up 14.9% of members of parliament (2019). Women comprise almost half of the labor force (45.5%). There are several female leaders in civil society. Violence, including sexual violence, against women is a common occurrence across the entire country and accepted in large parts of the society. Although forbidden by law, girls are married underage and often leave school early. Socially, homosexuality is completely unacceptable and is classified by law as a petty offense.
Despite engaging in oil production since 2003, Chad has remained one of the least developed countries in the world, rated as low-income economically and financially fragile. Structural deficiencies, a rentier state mentality, combined with a high level of corruption, contribute to it being one of the least developed and most vulnerable economies in the world. Pre-COVID-19 pandemic, official national and international sources mainly attributed the drop in Chad’s economic performance since 2014 to the oil-price shock, and it is likely that in the future the pandemic will shoulder the blame. However, corruption at all levels and a lack of preparation for price shocks also play an important role in Chad’s economic performance and should not be overlooked. During the period under review the per capita GDP (on a purchasing power parity basis) equated to $1,645 in 2019, compared to $1,820 in 2010, while GDP sank from $13,940.8 million in 2014 to $11,315.0 million in 2019 (with a low of $10,000.4 million in 2017). Foreign direct investment amounted to 5.0% of GDP in 2019, compared to -4.8% in 2014, while public debt represented 44.3% of GDP in 2019 compared to 30.1% of GDP in 2010. Gross capital formation has reduced steadily to 21.4% of GDP in 2019, compared to 24.4% of GDP in 2016, and 33.8% in 2014. Unemployment was 1.9% in 2020, remaining at almost the same level since 2010. However, with a large informal sector and high rates of subsistence farming, few people outside of the formal economy are included in the unemployment figure. Inflation was -1.0% in 2019 and is projected by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) to rise to up to 3.1%, reflecting increases in regional food prices and international oil prices. The current account balance, including official transfers, was reported by the IMF to have been -1.4% and -4.9% of GDP, in 2018 and 201 respectively,9 and is estimated to be -13.2% in 2020. The IMF estimates tax revenues to fall in 2020 and 2021. Figures covering net lending and borrowing are not available. After a decline in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the EIU estimated Chad’s GDP will recover in 2021 to 2022, with growth averaging 3.0% to 3.4% per year. It is necessary for Chad to diversify its economy to end dependence on the oil market. Economic activity was primarily driven by agriculture (43.8%), services (41.6%) and industry (14.7%). Oil remained Chad’s principal export, followed by cattle and cotton. China has replaced the United States as the most important export partner, buying almost 32% of Chad’s exports. This is twice as much as during the last period under review. The United States was second, buying almost 22% of exports, primarily oil.
Outside the oil sector, the contribution to economic growth made by small industries (e.g., soap, cigarettes, sugar, textiles) remains limited. Uranium and gold deposits in the northwest raised hopes among some groups in the population and members of the ruling clan for a boost to GDP. However, the government forbade private mining in 2020 in the northern regions.
Chad is severely affected by climate change, particularly in the Lake Chad region and the northern parts of the country belonging to the Sahel. The country ranked 172 out of 180 countries in the 2020 Environmental Performance Index.
In its document “Vision 2030” the government expresses its concern over environmental issues and declares its will to become an emerging sustainable economy. New productive capabilities and opportunities for the creation of decent work are urgently required, as are the development of human capital, measures to address desertification, environmental protection, adaptation to climate change and improved governance. However, as is often the case in the Chadian context, it would appear that the government is merely paying lip service in order to receive international funding. An environmental protection law was already adopted in 1998, but no serious implementation of laws followed. This is most visible in the degradation of land in the oil producing regions, where despite some ecologically sensible policies, the government never ensured adequate oversight over the oil companies’ environmental performance. It can be assumed that environmental standards will not be complied with in the exploitation of raw materials in the future.
A major environmental challenge of national and international concern is the falling water level of Lake Chad. Over the course of the last 50 years, the lake’s surface area has shrunk from 20,000 square kilometers to just 2,000 square kilometers. The Lake Chad Basin Commission (established in 1964), composed of representatives of the five riparian states and headquartered in N’Djamena, is exploring how to avoid further erosion and improve circulation. Chad joined the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention) in 2018 and was the first African state to commit to the sustainable management of transboundary waters through the principles and rules of international law.
The Chadian education system follows the French model with three levels (primary, secondary and higher education). Official languages are French and Arabic. Primary education (six years) is free and compulsory. However, parents have to buy textbooks and school uniforms. In public schools, tuition fees have to be paid. Parent associations, especially in the rural regions, finance more than half of the teachers and schools. Secondary education is for seven years. There are a number of private secondary institutions present in N’Djamena and in the other towns. There seems to be little state regulation of the sector. The University of N’Djamena was the first university in the country. The university has a total of four campuses and has approximately 16,000 students. In most towns in Chad, smaller universities and colleges exist with a limited number of subjects. Doctoral studies only began in September 2019, at the University of N’Djamena which now hosts a doctoral school in technical sciences and environment and one in humanities and social sciences. Previously, Chadian students were forced to continue their studies abroad, providing they could secure a grant or fund themselves.
The Chadian education system is one of the poorest-funded in the world. International efforts have not helped to improve it: the different education systems and languages that donors represent and want to disseminate may be partly responsible for this. But the education sector is also susceptible to the high level of corruption in the country.
Some numbers reflect the poor state of the education system: the UN Education Index of 2019 ranked Chad fourth last, with a value of 0.288. In 2017, the latest year for which figures are available, public expenditure on education represented 2.5% of GDP. R&D expenditure was 0.3% in 2016. In 2016, the overall literacy rate was 22.3%, highlighting a slow downward trend (it was 28.4% in 2004). COVID-19 pandemic-related measures and teacher strikes resulted in significant interruption of schooling during the period under review.
Education / R&D policy
Chad’s geographic location would be a burden on any government. It is a landlocked country situated in the Sahel region, meaning the transport of goods from the coasts is costly. Chad is surrounded by neighbors experiencing conflict. Natural constraints (e.g., environmental degradation, erratic rainfall, droughts and flooding) are high in the region. Chad is among the poorest countries in the world. However, many constraints are self-inflicted, such as bad governance and high levels of corruption. Another example is poor infrastructure. Even newly constructed roads degrade after a short period due to corruption within the ruling elite during the commissioning process. Energy supply is another area posing serious constraints.
The advent of oil production in 2003 had the potential to ease the economic situation of the country, help to diversify the economy and improve the poor educational and health systems. However, oil production is already beginning to decline, as it was well known from the outset, and all indices are worse than before production began. The government has shown no political will to fight poverty.
In March 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic, international borders were closed overnight. All markets, shops, and small trade were also closed. The population, which predominantly lives from what is earned during the day, was barely able to survive. Food deliveries did little to help. According to official statistics, there is no excess death rate in Chad due to COVID-19.
Diseases such as HIV/AIDS, regular waves of other infectious diseases like measles and also Malaria do cause a heavy death toll.
Civil society in Chad is weak and fragmented. Although there are no deep-rooted civil society traditions, human rights organizations and NGOs that focus on peaceful cohabitation (especially in conflicts between farmers and pastoral groups) and women’s and youth rights do important work. They are often the only voices raising concerns and (if only to a limited extent) able to generate international publicity for human rights violations; at the same time, they are dependent on international subsidies. Outspoken activists are vulnerable to government harassment, intimidation, arrest and even death. Their safety depends on their international visibility. The government has successfully created a parallel civil society, which is in fact loyal to the government and competes for international recognition. Trust is low within civil society and limited to close family circles.
There is no civic culture of moderate participation in public life. Ordinance 23 from June 7, 2018, and Decree 1917 from November 22, 2018, threaten the existence of NGOs, especially human rights organizations, if they make statements about political issues. At the same time, foreign funding, especially for human rights advocacy is on the decline, and the government taxes human rights groups that receive foreign funding at a rate of 1% (Decree 1917).
Civil society traditions
Chad is a highly conflictive society and cleavages exist along several lines. Some conflict lines have historical origins, but political power relations tend to intensify them. The ruling elite target the political opposition and civil society through tactics such as arrest, military presence at party headquarters (as in November and December 2020), prohibition of demonstrations and tear gassing (in February 2021). Radical Islamist terrorist groups such as Boko Haram and the Islamic State (IS) in the Lake Chad region regularly enter Chad, leading to heavy death tolls (e.g., in March 2020 on the island of Bohoma). So-called “political-military” groups, which operate primarily from southern Libya or Sudan aim to gain power and try to attack government forces. They formerly belonged to the inner power circle in Chad (Déby’s former confidants or relatives). Civilians are threatened by violence from all groups in these conflicts. Diverse experiences of conflict shape the everyday life of the population – from violence and attacks by the government and security forces, to maintaining power or arbitrary violence against individuals by members of the ruling elite, to intercommunal conflicts between farmers and pastoral ethnic groups. The latter are an ongoing problem in a number of regions, for example, in the southeastern Ouaddaï and Sila, neighboring the Darfur region of Sudan (Chad declared a state of emergency there in 2019). At the beginning of 2021 such conflicts led to deadly clashes in the Salamat, Mayo-Kebbi Est and Chari-Baguirmi regions. In the southwest of the country, kidnappings (often of children) with ransom demands are particularly common and widespread. In Tibesti (Miski area), conflicts between local self-defense groups and state security forces occur in the context of gold mining operations (a peace treaty concluded at the end of 2019 between the government and local dignitaries is apparently not being observed). In connection with the COVID-19 pandemic, security forces have frequently used violence to enforce hygiene and safety measures.
In Chad the long-term perspective is synonymous with maintaining power in the hands of the actual president, the ruling elite and – if the signals related to the revision of the constitution in November 2020 are interpreted correctly – within Déby’s family. Déby has been in power since December 1, 1990. His 30 years of rule have demonstrated no strategic commitment to democracy or the market economy – even if he likes to present himself as a democrat and reformer. Comparable to the Forum for the Reform of Institutions in 2018, an Inclusive Forum was created at the end of October 2020 to evaluate the 2018 constitution. Such a forum is to take place every three years to evaluate progress made. Hopes that the abolished position of prime minister (who used to represent the south of the country and to a certain degree balanced representation) would be reintroduced were dashed, but the post of vice president was created. The vice president will be nominated by the president himself. Therefore, Déby will continue to hold all power. He nominates ministers according to their proximity to the ruling elite, not their ability. Cabinet reshuffles occur regularly. High level posts in the public administration are distributed along similar criteria.
Chad’s “Vision 2030” and National Development Plan (2022 - 2026) focus on improving access to health care and education, increasing productive capacity, boosting job creation and strengthening good governance and the rule of law. However, such measures have been promised numerous times before and have not translated into tangible results.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the insolvent Chad may profit from debt relief from the Paris Club and the extended credit facility (ECF) under the IMF’s Catastrophe Containment Relief Trust (CCRT).
Chad’s implementation of its own and donors’ policies in political and economic terms is weak and inefficient. Since 2010 the World Bank has repeatedly demanded improvements to government quality, the strengthening of the management of public finances, improvements to access for key social services, and improvements to regional integration. Chad’s National Development Plan (2017 - 2021) focuses on economic diversification. So far, Chad has continuously fallen short of achieving the objectives of these policy plans. A World Bank Background Documentation of 2019 recommends that the Chadian authorities improve the process of budget preparation and public debt management, strengthen the reporting and monitoring of spending, limit the use of emergency spending, increase transparency and accountability in the oil sector, and increase efforts to strengthen the anti-corruption framework to reduce corruption. Similar recommendations have been made repeatedly by the World Bank and IMF with little impact.
It remains to be seen how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect implementation of the National Development Plan. It is likely that decreasing revenues (e.g., from oil exports) will cause financial constraints.
For 30 years the political leadership of Chad has demonstrated little will or evidence of learning with regard to the development of a constitutional democracy and – to a somewhat lesser extent – a market economy. However, in terms of interregional security, it demonstrates a great ability to be indispensable to international partners. Nationally, there is little demand for performance, as shown by the lack of control mechanisms over the president and the rapid turnover of ministers, which is not based on their performance but rather patronage. Flexibility and learning are confined to the aim of maintaining power. The authoritarian character of the regime has in fact solidified during the Fourth Republic since 2018, in part due to the foreign policy successes of Chad’s involvement in Mali and the G5 Sahel, the threat of Boko Haram, and international terrorism. There is no indication that the government has learned from past problems posed by the country’s dependence on oil revenues.
As such, it has not engaged in serious efforts to diversify the economy. International cooperating partners have repeated the same advice and demands for several years. It cannot be expected that the presidential elections in 2021 will change anything. The experience of his last victory of 2016 suggests that Déby will be even more resistant to advice than he currently is, as in his eyes he will have been democratically re-elected.
There is scant reliable information on government finances, meaning it is difficult to analyze the government’s resource efficiency.
The Open Budget Survey (OBS) 2019 confirms this assumption: Chad ranks 103 out of 117 countries in regard to public transparency over how the government raises and spends public resources. The OBS classifies the current situation as insufficient, even as Chad slightly improved its performance from 2 to 14 (out of 100). This small improvement was attributed to the availability of the executive’s budget proposals online. However, this does not provide any details on government spending. Most key budget documents, like the year-end or audit reports, are not produced. Chad scored zero out of 100 for public participation in the budget process. An independent fiscal institution does not exist in the country.
At all political and administrative levels state resources are considered private property that can be exploited for as long as one has access to them. This begins at the highest level – the president and his family exploit the treasury and other revenues – and state employees and citizens replicate this behavior.
Government reshuffles are frequent. Since 2018, Déby has reshuffled his cabinet four times. At the end of 2020, his cabinet consisted of 29 ministers and six state ministers. It should be noted that appointments are to be seen in the context of loyalty and not of competence.
Since 2010, parliament has consisted of 188 members. On December 23, 2019, the members of parliament voted to reduce their numbers to 161 from the next legislative period. This decision was linked with the restructuring of the electoral districts, so that fewer members will represent the heavily populated south in the future.
Efficient use of assets
There is no interest in achieving an overall coherent government policy. Policy revolves around the president. The Chadian government tries to present an alternative picture to the outside world, as with the two inclusive forums in 2018 and 2020. The forums offer a facade that there is a culture of political discussion in the country that simply does not exist. Decisions on all levels appear to be dependent on the view of the president. Policy decisions follow Déby’s pronouncements and are not debated. Parliament, dominated by the president’s ruling MPS majority, does not serve as a counterbalance. The few members of parliament in opposition who were previously outspoken have largely given up their open resistance and are now barely visible.
With the pandemic, the lack of coherence is clearly evident: a crisis team was initially located in the Ministry of Health. However, officially due to incompetence, it was redeployed directly to the president’s office in mid-May 2020. On January 1, 2021, the citizens of N’Djamena were shocked by a decree proclaimed by the minister-secretary general of the presidency enforcing without warning a complete curfew for one week. Three days later the secretary of state for health declared that this rule was only a matter of isolating N’Djamena from the rest of the country for a month.
Chad became the 186th state to ratify the United Nations Convention on Corruption on June 26, 2018, with the aim of facilitating the development of more effective action to fight corruption. In January 2019, a roadmap for the implementation of the convention, as well as a distribution of institutional responsibilities for the review mechanism were adopted.
Diversion of funds is one of the most substantial problems facing Chad. State resources are distributed via patronage networks and corruption is a fundamental characteristic of the political system. According to international observers such as the Economist Intelligence Unit, the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the IMF, corruption is rampant at all levels. The government has repeatedly introduced mechanisms to curb these practices, such as a special ethics ministry, the oil management regime, or Operation Cobra in 2012. Déby has denounced corruption regularly in public speeches. In view of the number of members of his or his wife’s family holding posts in government and public services, this can be perceived only as rhetoric. The constitution only deals with the theme of corruption in general terms. The General Inspection of the State (Inspection Générale d’État) was created in 2015. However, the inspection is attached to the presidency and Déby nominates the general inspector. Accusations of corruption against former and serving senior government officials are merely political statements, reflecting who has fallen out of favor with the regime. The latest prominent example, in September 2020, is the arrest of a former minister of petrol (2013 - 2016) because of irregularities.
Déby has presented himself as a safeguard against corruption even when close family members were accused or arrested of corruption. Yet, the handling of those cases shows fighting corruption is not the prime objective of the president. Rather, it follows a regular pattern of allegations of corruption, arrest and successful prosecution of the accused, subsequent pardon, and eventually a return to high office for the accused. Overall, a culture of impunity within a system of patronage hinders the effective handling of corruption. The IMF has clearly urged Chadian authorities in various documents to reduce corruption.
Chad’s political leadership does not pursue democratic transformation; it pursues economic transformation – under donor pressure – only partially. The leadership has failed to establish a broad consensus on reform with other key actors in Chadian society. The most recent example is the constitution of 2018 and its amendments. The political opposition and “real” civil society were either not allowed to participate or felt they had to boycott the process. On paper, both government and opposition claim to be for democracy and for economic development (poverty reduction). However, after 30 years of autocratic rule and 30 years of opposition it is impossible to distinguish lip service from real commitment
Both the government and opposition proclaim their will to build democracy and a market-based economy. But several leaders of the opposition parties, some civil society actors, and other significant actors have readily resorted to undemocratic activities. One of the few credible opposition leaders in recent years, Ibni Oumar Mahamat Saleh, was killed after his arrest in February 2008. Succès Masra, the first politician who emerged from the younger generation (in 2018), presents himself as a democrat. He has not yet been permitted to register his movement, “Les Transformateurs” (the transformers), as a political party and as a result will most likely not play a role in the elections in 2021.
In terms of economic reforms, there is broad consensus that dramatic changes must take place, but there are serious doubts over both the government and the opposition’s willingness to prioritize development over narrow political ambitions. The opposition shows no elaborated political or economic program. Its rhetoric mainly focuses on accusing the president of anti-democratic practices, mismanagement and corruption and the resulting urgent need for political change.
Consensus on goals
In the Chadian autocratic system, the government itself is the main anti-democratic veto actor. 30 years of power make it impossible to identify true reformers within the sphere of political power, as the ruling elite tries to co-opt promising actors not only within the political sphere, but also within civil society. A new opposition leader, Succès Masra, emerged onto the political scene in Chad in May 2018 after his resignation from the African Development Bank. His movement (Les Transformateurs), which he presents as democratic, has not yet sought coalition partners among the established parties. Trade unions try hard to maintain a democratic profile.
During the period under review, there were no serious threats to the government’s control by extra-governmental anti-democratic veto actors, such as politico-military movements. So far, the government has managed to conclude peace agreements with most of the politico-military movements. An exception is the CCMSR, founded in Libya in 2016, which conducted an attack on Chadian soil in February 2020. The conflicts tend to relate to access to state resources and are not ideologically driven. In his inauguration speech of the Fourth Republic, Déby promised a general amnesty to all political opponents (armed or not armed) in exile.
The conflicts in Chad are the result of a mixture of structural causes. Although they have historical roots, they are reinforced by the current political power relations, international support for the Déby government, especially from France, and by Islamist terror groups in neighboring countries. The most important cleavages are based on religion, ethnicity, region and class.
The Chadian government has no interest in intensifying any of these conflicts, especially between Muslims and Christians, however it does very little to help to prevent conflicts. This becomes most obvious in the conflict between farmers and herders that has been the cause of many deaths in the south of the country. Despite the long-standing conflicts, the government tends not to react, or it dispatches security forces who cause more deaths. It is obvious that the government lacks the political will to actively pursue conflict resolution and pays only lip service to national reconciliation. Moreover, it exploits the divided nature of Chadian society to achieve its goals and ignores civil society organizations’ demands for an inclusive national dialogue. Islamic and Christian faith organizations lack the influence to push for political action. Consequently, divisions within society have not been reduced, and the personality-based and ethnoregional cleavages have not been bridged.
Annual national days of prayer initiated by Christian and Islamic leaders have been transformed by the state into political instruments to demonstrate the president’s power and his good relations with the different religious communities.
Little is known about the power struggles inside the ruling clan. They are only visible when members leave the palace, like the Erdimi-brothers in 2005, who left to join a rebellion. However, rumors suggest the president’s constant fear of coup attempts. These power struggles within the inner circle point to cleavages along sub-clan lines and are dealt with internally by the elite. Patronage plays an important calming role. By changing his name to Déby-Itno in 2006, Déby showed a rapprochement with his grandfather’s Zaghawa clan. The dominant role of the first lady’s Arab relations became more evident as her relatives repeatedly occupied ministerial and other high posts in public administration. Other northern ethnic groups feel increasingly excluded from power. The population in the country’s south has grown increasingly discouraged over its exclusion from power and resources, and a perception that they are losing ground to the northerners who belong to the political and commercial elite. Though frustration is growing, southerners have no political or military strength to change their situation. The cleavages within Chadian society are reflected in the national army. During the military confrontations of the past few years, such as the incursion of the UFR (Union of Resistance Forces) or with self-defense groups in Miski in 2019, elements within the army, including high-ranking officers, have refused to fight against the “enemy” based on community ties they have to those groups. This illustrates how divisions and power struggles within Chad also exist within the army.
Cleavage / conflict management
The relations between the political leadership and civil society, with the exception of the civil society brought into being by the government itself, are rather conflictual. Civil society regularly pays a high price for criticizing the ruling elite. Repressive actions – from harassment to arrests or even complete disappearance – by government supporters or the security forces shape everyday life for members of the outspoken civil society. They are unable to participate in the political process. The government continues to ignore civil society actors, preferring to formulate policies autonomously. The forum of October 2020 serves as a good example. The critical civil society actors were not invited to the forum, and when they tried to organize an alternative forum in November 2020, participants were dispersed by security forces.
In some cases, strikes have yielded results. For example, a large-scale strike by the public sector on January 7, 2020, demanding the restoration of allowances that had been scrapped in 2016 led to concessions by the president.
Two orders – Order 023 of June 7, 2018, and Order 1917 of November 22, 2018 – restrict the right to freedom of association and demonstrate that the state intends to further hinder the work of civil society groups. The government can refuse to authorize any association or NGO which might be critical, regional or communitarian-based or act against good manners – without further specification. Limitations are also imposed on the creation and participation in federations of associations.
Protests ahead of the elections in 2021 have been banned and protesters arrested, among them Mahamat Nour Ibedou, a prominent human rights activist.
Religious leaders meet on a regular basis with the president. However, it is doubtful whether they have any influence on him. Religious institutions organize the annual Day of Prayer and Reconciliation, but President Déby is always the key speaker.
The Foundation Big Heart (Fondation Grand Cœur), established by the president’s wife Hinda Déby, in 2017, has a lot of influence on the charity and political scene. Hinda presents herself as a person devoted to charity and receives national and international donations. It was even proposed that all international supply and aid in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic would be processed by Foundation Grand Cœur. Government and civil society efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic have not gone hand in hand.
Civil society participation
Déby assumed power from former President Hissène Habré by force in 1990. Déby was the commander-in-chief of the armed forces under Habré. Officially, silence was maintained concerning the crimes of the Habré regime. An American and a Chadian lawyer, Jacqueline Moudeina, fought hard to ensure that Habré could be accused of perpetrating crimes against humanity during his rule. After 23 years in exile in Senegal, he was finally arrested in 2013 and sentenced to life imprisonment in 2016. The Extraordinary African Chambers in Dakar rejected his appeal in 2017. Habré’s life sentence for crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture was upheld. The chamber ordered him to pay substantial amounts in reparations to 7,396 of his victims. To date, they have not received any payment. Many of them have already died.
The government has put no real emphasis on coming to terms with the crimes, traumas and memories associated either with the years of dictatorship and civil war prior to Déby’s regime, or the ongoing internal conflicts. As long as the current leadership continues to perpetrate its numerous abuses of power, justice and reconciliation are a long way off. The constitution of the Fourth Republic of 2018 abolished the institution of the national mediator, who could have performed a role in mediating conflicts in some cases. However, the constitutional amendment of 2020 plans to revive this post.
Chad is heavily dependent on bilateral and multilateral donors and cooperation with the international community. All statements and publications addressed in the direction of international partners should be read in light of this dependence, and thus as a means to keep the state and the economy running, but not as genuine objectives for political and economic development. The political priority of the ruling elite is to stay in power. Policy papers, such as the National Development Plan, are often written after repeated requests by international donors, and with the threat of funding being withdrawn. “Vision 2030,” a paper written for the 2017 Paris donors’ conference, promises a three-stage development structure. It is expected that the next National Development Plan (2022 - 2026) will focus on improving access to health care and education, increasing productive capacity, boosting job creation and strengthening governance. The ruling elite and the government are adept at adapting to the wishes of the donor community in order to receive funding that is embezzled through well-established corrupt absorption and rent-seeking mechanisms. Historical country reports by development banks and donor organizations show that corruption, low capacity within the administration and no ownership of ministries, as well as insufficient diversification of the economy, are long-standing issues facing Chad.
The COVID-19 pandemic and international efforts to ease its impact on the poorest countries may grant the Chadian government another excuse for the lack of progress made with regards to planning and development.
Effective use of support
As in the past, the Chadian government successfully acts as a credible international partner in security matters and as the only stable regime in the region. When it comes to implementing international standards within its territory (especially regarding human rights and good governance), the government is far less reliable. Security, political, economic and strategic interests have kept France, the European Union and the United States from pushing too forcefully for democratic reforms.
Chad is a member of the United States financed Trans-Sahara Counter-Terrorism Partnership (TSCTP), aimed at strengthening partner countries’ counter-terrorism capacities and inhibiting the spread of extremist ideologies. The country also benefits from the EU’s Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF for Africa), which supports stability via projects addressing root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons and improving security inside the territory.
Under Déby, Chad has signed a number of international conventions. However, this does not automatically imply that they are abided by on the ground.
Chad is a member of different regional and subregional communities. The country has signed a number of international conventions and its president is respected among his peers. Chad usually complies with the rules set by regional and international organizations. It is a member of the AU (since 2017 Déby’s confident Moussa Faki is the chairperson of the AU Commission), the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC), the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC), the G5 Sahel (since 2014) and together with Mauretania, Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso, the G5 joint force (since 2017). The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) came into force on January 1, 2021. Déby’s interests and regional commitments are heavily influenced by security considerations, with a view to securing his own power on the one hand and to fight regional and international jihadist terrorism on the other hand. Therefore, he tries to secure Chadian borders especially with Libya and Sudan and participates in international peace missions and regional military task forces. Chad provides the majority of the 8,000 soldiers of the joint Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) of the countries bordering Lake Chad, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria, and conducts most of the cross-border missions to fight Boko Haram.
There continue to be allegations of Chadian interference in Sudan and CAR. Both countries have accused Chad of supporting armed groups within their territory. The latest accusations were voiced in January 2021. CAR later retracted the accusation. Chad denies any interference and condemns the recruitment of Chadian nationals to armed groups operating within its neighboring states.
Chad’s role during the rebel attack on the eve of the elections in December 2020 in its southern neighbor CAR remains unclear. In the past, Chad lent support to rebels, like the Muslim Séléka, which shows that Chad continues to consider CAR within its sphere of influence.
The near future will be dominated by the upcoming presidential elections scheduled for April 11, 2021, and parliamentary elections scheduled for October 24, 2021 (if they are indeed held). It can be assumed that the current balance of power will not change in April 2021 and during the next term as Déby is most likely to be re-elected in the first round of elections. His control over the security forces, the electoral body, the public space and also a general disillusionment amongst the population toward the potential for elections to bring genuine change, support this assumption. At the same time opposition to Déby and the ruling MPS is increasingly visible among the youth, observable in the person of Succès Masra and his movement Les Transformateurs (The Transformers). However, some support for Déby is also to be found, as segments of the population fear disorder and even civil war. In the past Déby used post-election periods to further stabilize his power. This time, it is likely that he will try to arrange his succession, potentially through his choice for the newly-created role of vice president. Déby could choose one of his sons or another close relative to assure that the power stays in the family or clan. It cannot be expected that demands from international partners for a democratic succession would have any influence on his decisions.
As long as the security crisis in the Sahel and the Lake Chad region prevails, the Chadian ruling elite can be assured of the support of the international community, above all of France. Therefore, no political or economic reforms can be expected from the Chadian side. In the past, Chad was assured that the international community and donors would try everything to prevent a state collapse and turn a blind eye to high level corruption and lack of democracy.
Therefore, it would be desirable to see support for the few democratic forces, members of the civil society, trade unions and the press and internet bloggers as well as courageous individuals who still dare to speak out. The COVID-19 pandemic and the accompanying travel restrictions put all these groups and individuals in great danger of being arrested or simply disappearing, as they are unable to flee the country to safe havens. International mechanisms to protect these persons are needed.
A minimum of health service provision, especially in connection with the pandemic, is also required. The educational system needs to be adjusted to the basic needs of the population, as well as supporting talented young people to study abroad. Chad scores low on development even on regional comparisons, and the country risks being left behind over the long term.
The IMF, World Bank and other donors should ensure that their funding reaches target groups and is not vulnerable to embezzlement in the patronage system. This applies to regular funding as well as that linked to the COVID-19 pandemic. Economic diversification, the amelioration of the educational and health systems, and good governance measures remain key priorities.