While the national dialogue in Chad has been postponed, France seems concerned by the lack of agreement between the authorities and the rebels. But while the Quai d'Orsay and the French diplomatic machine condemn other military regimes in Africa, why does Paris still support Mahamat Déby?
A year has passed since Mahamat Idriss Déby took power in Chad. The young president of the Transitional Military Council (CMT), faithful to the diplomatic traditions of his late father, did everything to stay on good terms with France. Even if, objectively, the two countries experienced some tensions, in particular because of the announced duration of the transition.
Tensions quickly overcome. For its part, French diplomacy has remarkably refrained from putting pressure on the young putschist. Mahamat Déby has installed a civilian government, deemed a puppet by the Chadian opposition, and is trying somehow to unite the rebel groups around a transition schedule.
For public opinion, this relationship between France and Chad shows nothing new. But institutionally, “the dead heart of Africa” is no exception vis-à-vis other French-speaking countries of the Sahelo-Saharan strip governed by soldiers – Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso. Except that, unlike the latter, Chad is not worried by French interference in its political transition. Observing the statements of French officials, Paris' support for Mahamat Déby is no secret. His reasons are guarded more jealously.
A domino effect that will reach Chad?
The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs published a long press release providing “its support for the efforts made in the direction (of the search for consensus) by the authorities” in Chad. An announcement that comes barely two days after the announcement, by Mahamat Déby's CMT, of the postponement of the national dialogue scheduled for May 10.
Yet another delay which, if it had happened in another African country, would have given rise to a storm of French threats. "French support for Déby is not out of concern for respect for the sovereignty of a friendly country," ironically the Chadian press. Above all, the controversy surrounding the breakdown of military cooperation agreements between Mali and France has raised questions in Chad.
Member of the NGO Urgences Panafricanistes, Ali Alhadj Allahou, said: "What is happening now in Mali can happen in Chad, because the Chadians of yesterday are not the Chadians of today and we cannot can't make them sleep standing up so that's enough". Adding: “Neocolonialism is based on these cooperation agreements because no one can have another partner than France and that is not normal. France must leave Africa, the peoples do not need her”.
The leader of the Afriques en Lutte collective, Paul Martial, insists that Chad “has become over time one of the centerpieces of the French army. Recall that the command post of Operation Barkhane is based in N'Djamena, the Chadian capital. He recalls in particular that since the start of anti-terrorist operations in the Sahel, "it is the Chadian fighters who have been on the front line and have paid a heavy price in human lives".
France and Déby, once is not custom
Despite the few outings of Mahamat Déby where he demands that France keep its promises vis-à-vis N'Djamena, Paris demonstrates finesse in its relations with the military leader.
It was more or less the same relationship that the French state had for decades with the Chadian leaders. In 1981, Hissène Habré's coup was supported by France. Habré then committed an unprecedented pogrom in the country, executing his opponents and their families by the thousands.
Then it was the turn of Idriss Déby Itno, who also came to power after a coup, aided by the French intelligence services. On the death of Mahamat Déby's father last year, in his famous interview in which he accused France of forcing him to run for his last term, Idriss Déby declared: "France intervened to change the Constitution" in 2002.
The French sociologist Roland Marchal affirms that the French army “has not left Chad since 1969, in particular with an installation, not via a military base, but under a cooperation agreement”. This would explain, according to the specialist, "the military storytelling on Chad, which described this army as the best in Africa with French people who, historically, have tended to minimize the problems of functioning of this army and the numerous violations of the rights of the Man she has committed”.
If the Quai d'Orsay therefore continues to support the Déby clan in Chad, it is mainly in order to guarantee the continuity of the French military presence in the Sahel. The latter, threatened by the diplomatic line of Mali, but also of Burkina Faso, will it be enough to justify the installation of a new dictatorial regime in Chad?
— chadinfos (@tchadinfos) May 3, 2022