Chad: Stop The Desert And Start A Revolution

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January 31, 2009: The government faces a massive rebellion over cooking fuel. Last December, the government banned the use of charcoal and wood for cooking in the major cities. This was done in an effort to halt the desertification of Chad (via cutting down trees, which halt the spread of the desert). Over the last half century, a growing population has led to massive destruction of woodlands. While ecologically correct, the government did not provide any fuel alternatives. The army and police have forbid any public demonstrations against the charcoal ban, so women (who are responsible for getting fuel and cooking) have taken to banging pots and pans at home at certain times, in aural demonstrations that can be heard all over the capital and other major cities. Meanwhile, as women scrounge whatever wood, and anything else that burns, the cooking fires are starting to go out all over urban Chad. When people get hungry, they get really, really angry.

Another source of anger is the ongoing destruction of squatter homes in the capital. Over 10,000 people have seen their homes destroyed in the last year, as the government clears squatters from government owned land. No alternative housing has been provided, so the demolition policy is just creating a large number of homeless families. The growing oil income is creating a new group of government officials who seek to build homes and offices in the capital. Some senior officials have become wealthy from the oil income, and seek more space in the capital for construction projects. The government is also believed to be using the policy to chase pro-rebel people out of the capital. As a country with over fifty tribes, any urban area in Chad is a complex quilt of conflicting tribal and personal loyalties. Many neighborhoods in the capital are not loyal to the current government, and some of those neighborhoods are being demolished during the anti-squatter program.

Sudan has accused Chad of sending troops from its Republican Guard into Darfur, to help break the siege of Muhageryia, a town captured by the rebel group JEM in mid-January, but now under siege by Sudanese troops. Sudan offered no proof (like dead or captured Chadian soldiers) of the charge. These sort of accusations usually precede another round of fighting between Chad and Sudan. Naturally, Chad denied the accusations.

January 28, 2009: France is withdrawing over half the 1,650 troops it has in Chad. This is part of a program whereby France is cutting the number of troops (currently 13,000) it has deployed overseas, by 15 percent.

January 18, 2009: Eight Chad rebel groups, all based in Sudan, have agreed to unite as the Union of Resistance Forces (URF), and jointly seek to overthrow the current Chad government. Earlier attempts to unite failed because of an inability to agree on who would take over as the new president (and chief disburser  of oil money) of Chad. URF is working on that problem and expects to have a solution soon.

January 15, 2009: The UN has agreed to provide a force of 5,500 peacekeepers to replace the 3,700 EU troops in Chad. This is to take place in the next few months. This is not expected to change anything, as the UN forces will be as overextended and ineffective as the EU force.

 

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