Chad: Troublesome Tribal Politics

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December 3, 2005: During the last few weeks, former Chadian president Hissène Habré was arrested twice, and released, in Senegal, for war crimes committed during his rule. The arrests were in response to an extradition request from a UN war crimes investigation, and a law suit, in Belgium, by some of Habre's victims. Habre is accused of killing some 40,000 people (and torturing five times as many) during his eight years of rule (through 1990). Habre has been living in exile in Senegal since 1990. Political activists have persuaded Belgium to allow local courts to issue war crimes indictments and extradition orders. The African Union has now stepped in to decide if this sort of thing should be recognized. The legacy of European colonialism still rankles in Africa, and this Belgium court trying to extradite former African tyrants does not sit well with many Africans. There is also the feeling that, if you keep pursuing these tyrants, after they have been driven into exile, future tyrants will fight to the death, and the death of many more of the people they are ruling, rather than make a deal and leave.

November 27, 2005: The government now accuses Sudan of supporting SCUD (Platform for Change, National Unity and Democracy), a rebel group of 300-3,000 members (depending on who you believe) composed of members of Chadian president Deby's tribe (who want to overthrow Deby.) SCUD exists, but does not appear particularly active.

November 25, 2005: The government denied Sudan's accusations that Chadian air force transports had made low level recon flights over Sudan. Sudan also accused Chad of allowing armed groups to cross the border and raid Sudanese villages. Chadian tribes on the Sudanese border are apparently involved in aiding kinsmen across the border in Sudan, and the Chadian government is apparently not doing much to stop it, and may even be helping (or at least keeping an eye on things with those aircraft flights).

November 17, 2005: In response to dissent within his own tribe, president Deby has removed 200 tribal allies from leadership positions in the army and police, and replaced them with men from southern tribes. This solves the problem of the southern tribes being angry because the northern tribes (especially the one the president belonged to) had a disproportionate number of government jobs.

November 14, 2005: There was gunfire heard at two army bases near the capital. Apparently, the dispute within the president's tribe (which supports intervention in Darfur, where related tribal people live) has not yet been resolved.

 

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