Chad: The Big Shakedown

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September 16, 2006: While president Deby fights rebels in the east and oil companies in the capital, relief workers along the Sudan border live in fear as banditry becomes more common. The roads have become so dangerous that relief workers must travel in heavily armed convoys in order to safely more personnel and supplies. The army and police are more interested in payoffs that in providing security.
September 10, 2006: Both the government and FUC ( United Front for Democratic Change) rebels say they fought a major battle at Aram Kolle, in eastern Chad. The army claims it killed 168 rebels, captured 28 and wounded many more. The rebels say pretty much the opposite, and insist that they stood their ground. The last major clash with rebels was last April, and that one left over 200 dead.
August 29, 2006: President Deby has demanded that Chad receive 60 percent ownership of the oil companies operating in Chad. The companies have invested over $4 billion in an operation that now ships about $3.6 billion worth of oil a year. Chad receives a 12.5 percent royalty on oil shipments, but president Deby insisted that two of the three oil companies also owed half a billion dollars in back taxes (this was later doubled). The back taxes must be paid, and the government given over half the oil profits, or the two oil companies must get out of the country. Earlier this year, Chad tried to wiggle out of a deal with the World Bank, which arranged for the financing to build the oil pipeline, to deposit part of oil revenues in a fund for building up the economy and reducing poverty. In general, oil and mineral wealth tends to benefit politicians more than the average citizen in Africa. Corruption is widespread, and getting your hands on the oil income is a goal most African politicians find irresistible.

 

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