An ex-combatant leans against a window of a dormitory room at an internment camp for ex-Boko Haram fighters, in Goudoumaria, Niger, in August 2018. (Jane Hahn/For The Washington Post)

My last international trip before the covid-19 lockdown was to Nigeria’s neighbor Chad. It wasn’t my first visit to the north-central African nation of some 16 million, which ranks last on the World Bank’s Human Capital Index, but it was unique. I ventured to the Lac region, the country’s principal agricultural region, an area impoverished by climate change, corruption, diseases, dictatorship — and now, the militant group Boko Haram. Having monitored the advent and transformation of Boko Haram in Nigeria, I knew that the group had inflicted substantial damage across the Lake Chad region, but I wanted to see and feel the situation for myself.…  Seguir leyendo »

Mahamat Idriss Déby, son of late Chadian President Idriss Déby, attends his father’s state funeral in N’Djamena, Chad, on April 23. (Christophe Petit Tesson/Reuters)

In April, Gen. Azem Bermendao Agouna announced that Chadian President Idriss Déby had died on the battlefield fighting rebels. During the same broadcast, Agouna declared the establishment of a transitional military council, and dissolved the executive and legislature, replacing the constitution with a transitional charter. In effect, analysts including myself argue, he announced a military coup.

Idriss Déby’s son, Gen. Mahamat Idriss Déby, sits at the head of the transitional council, which is a military junta composed of 14 other generals. Under the transitional charter, the junta functions as the executive with Mahamat Déby as head of state. He has appointed an interim government led by civilian Albert Pahimi Padacké as prime minister, but the military retains control.…  Seguir leyendo »

Soldiers sit in a truck in N’Djamena during the state funeral last month of Chad’s president. President Idriss Déby died of injuries suffered in clashes with rebels in the country’s north, an army spokesperson announced April 20. He had been in power since 1990. (Christophe Petit Tesson/Pool/AP)

Chadian President Idriss Déby died on the battlefield on April 19. That’s hardly a common death for any country’s leader in modern times — and the story breathes fresh life into what has been, since colonial times, a cliche: the view of Chad as an endlessly warring country populated by ferocious fighters.

My research on armed violence suggests that Chad is indeed a country in which politics is conducted with weapons in hand — but not because of inherent national characteristics or a warrior culture rooted in tradition. Instead, Chad’s militarization is the product of a history made of rebellions and suppressions in which neighboring countries and the former colonial power, France, have never ceased to play a key role.…  Seguir leyendo »

Leaders of the G5 Sahel West African countries and their ally France confer over efforts to stem a jihadist offensive unfolding in the region. Photo by LUDOVIC MARIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images.

Chad’s ‘Après-Déby’ moment has been the subject of intense speculation and discrete scenario-planning for years by the country’s external partners and stakeholders as no-one seriously entertained the possibility he would ever step down peacefully.

But such prior reflection did not cushion the shock in N’Djaména and foreign capitals when the military announced his death on the battlefield – as his army confronted a rebel incursion from across Chad’s Libyan border – immediately dissolved the National Assembly, and declared 18 months of rule by a Transitional Military Council headed by Déby’s own son Mahamat.

With Déby gone, the future of Chad is in doubt, as well as its role as a military actor across a huge region of Central and Sahelian Africa, as a key partner for Nigeria, Cameroon and Niger in the struggle to contain Boko Haram, and as a strategic ally for France.…  Seguir leyendo »

Que s’est-il passé ?

Selon des sources officielles, le président tchadien Idriss Déby Itno est décédé mardi 20 avril vers 1 heure du matin, à la suite de combats entre l’armée tchadienne et la rébellion du Front pour l’alternance et la concorde au Tchad (FACT), non loin de Mao dans la région du Kanem, au centre du pays. Au pouvoir depuis 30 ans, Déby venait tout juste d’être réélu pour un sixième mandat consécutif. Sa mort a été annoncée à 11 heures du matin, sur l’antenne de la télévision nationale, par le porte-parole de l’armée, le général Azem Bermandoa. Certains observateurs émettent des doutes sur cette version des faits et présentent d’autres hypothèses, non confirmées, sur les circonstances de sa mort, notamment celle d’une réunion de négociations avec des membres du FACT qui aurait tourné à la fusillade.…  Seguir leyendo »

Civil activists Dingamnayal Nely Versinis (L) and Maounde Decladore (R) speak during a meeting in N'Djamena on 24 July 2017. AFP/Samir TOUNSI

Socio-economic problems are mounting in Chad, a country seen by foreign partners as critical to stability in the Sahel. In the capital Ndjamena and in the provinces, popular discontent appears set to grow as the cost of living in the oil-dependent central African country continues to rise. After a small economic improvement in 2019, Chadians are likely to see tougher times ahead with the drop in international oil prices and the global recession brought on by the coronavirus pandemic and efforts to control its spread.

Chad also faces new security problems and political uncertainty. Over the last year, the country’s north has been hit by both Chadian rebel incursions from southern Libya and, in another northern area, a spike in tensions between security forces and local self-defence groups.…  Seguir leyendo »

Authorities and politicians like to talk of the fight against impunity. Yet while the reality of this struggle has intensified, it remains worrying that it is so limited. The case of Hissène Habré - president of Chad in the 1980s, tried in Senegal three years ago - offers us a good perspective on one of the main limits of this struggle.

The fight against impunity can be described in three stages.

Recognition of suffering

The first one is recognition of victims’ suffering. This recognition should be public. It is sometimes through the courts if victims use legal channels to establish the violations suffered: these are the different human rights procedures that can be carried out at national, regional or global level.…  Seguir leyendo »

French mirage 2000-D from the Barkhane force lands after a tactical mission in N'Djamena on 22 December 2018. French president is on visit to meet with Chadian president and with soldiers from the Barkhane mission in Africa's Sahel region. Ludovic MARIN / AFP

What happened?

On 3-6 February 2019, at the request of N’Djamena, planes from the French Operation Barkhane proceeded with a series of strikes against a group of Chadian rebels in the north east of the country. According to rebels’ spokesperson Youssouf Hamid Ishagh, the Union of Resistance Forces (Union des forces de la résistance – UFR), a coalition based in Libya, intended to reach the capital N’Djamena in order to overthrow President Idriss Déby and “set up a transitional government uniting all of the country’s forces”. The plan was aborted following the French intervention. Composed mainly of Zaghawa fighters from Déby’s own ethnic community, this rebel movement is directed by Timan Erdimi, the president’s nephew, who lives in Qatar.…  Seguir leyendo »

Elle paraît infiniment plus vieille que ses 16 ans. Sur les photos, elle ne sourit pas. Ses yeux sont vides, bouffis de cernes. Comment rire encore, du rire clair et pur de l’adolescence, lorsqu’on a été mariée de force à 13 ans ? Pourtant, contrairement à tant d’autres, Hawariya Mahamat Abdoulaye a pu échapper à son destin. Enlevée, violée et torturée pendant plus d’un an par un époux quinquagénaire, elle a fini par fuir à pied, en pleine brousse, ignorant le danger, les prédateurs et les coupeurs de route, mais peut-être préférait-elle la mort au calvaire qu’elle venait d’endurer. Recueillie à N'Djamena, la capitale tchadienne, par une partie de sa famille, elle a fini par porter plainte contre son tortionnaire.…  Seguir leyendo »

Chadian President Idriss Déby acknowledges soldiers and military officers in the Chadian capital N'djamena, on 11 December, 2015 Brahim Adji/AFP

Chad is facing a severe fiscal and social crisis. On 7-8 September, President Idriss Déby is in Paris for an International Donor Conference to seek much-needed funding for the country’s National Development Program. The government likes to portray the country’s problems as due to external shocks like the drop in oil prices and the cost of military intervention against Boko Haram and other extremists. Donors, under pressure from France, largely accept this narrative and support has recently been forthcoming from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). But a closer look at the country’s recent history tells another story.

According to the Chadian economy minister, the conference aims to mobilise support “for the transformation of Chadian economy”.…  Seguir leyendo »

One of the world’s worst humanitarian crises is unfolding in West Africa’s Lake Chad region, where 11 million people are in urgent need of emergency aid.

Nigeria, its neighbours, and the world are struggling to find an adequate response. Failure to do so will condemn millions to more suffering, and raise the region’s vulnerability to violent extremism.

Donors meeting at the Oslo Humanitarian Conference on Nigeria and the Lake Chad region on Friday must seize the opportunity to act more effectively.

Up to 100,000 people may have died in the seven-year Boko Haram insurgency, according to Governor Kassim Shettima of Borno State in Nigeria’s northeast, the epicentre of the fighting.…  Seguir leyendo »

Dichosas democracias africanas

Como anunciara sin ambages, Teodoro Obiang se sucedió a sí mismo en la presidencia de Guinea Ecuatorial, al obtener casi tantos votos como votantes en los recientes comicios de abril. Torturas, detenciones, amenazas y tantas irregularidades palmarias que jalonaron el proceso no empalidecen la «victoria apoteósica» del «líder carismático», sancionada por observadores reverentes, encabezados por el designado por la Unión Africana (UA), Thomas Yayi Boni, expresidente del vecino Benín, a quien Barack Obama negó el saludo en la reciente cumbre mundial sobre el clima en París. Nada impide cumplir sus designios al mandatario más longevo del continente; con 73 años, seguirá sirviéndose de su patria hasta 2023, y entonces pergeñará nuevos pretextos para continuar en un sillón ocupado en 1979, del que ni la muerte le separará.…  Seguir leyendo »

L’ancien dictateur tchadien Hissène Habré, lors de sa condamnation le 30 mai à Dakar. Photo Carley Petesch. AP

Le 30 mai, Hissène Habré, ancien dictateur du Tchad entre 1982 et 1990, a été condamné à vie par les Chambres africaines extraordinaires (CAE), un tribunal créé pour l’occasion par le Sénégal et l’Union africaine. Une première dans le domaine juridique, mais s’agit-il d’un pas vers une justice africaine ?

La création des CAE a vu le jour après de multiples atermoiements en 2013 pour un procès qui a, lui aussi, connu de nombreux rebondissements après son ouverture, en septembre 2015. La théâtralité de la défense de Hissène Habré, lequel ne reconnaît pas la légitimité de ces CAE, n’a d’égale que l’ampleur des crimes pour lesquels il a été condamné : «crimes contre l’humanité», «viols», «crimes de guerre» et «torture».…  Seguir leyendo »

Des proches de victimes de l’ancien président tchadien Hissène Habré assistant à une séance du tribunal spécial cré pour le juger, à Dakar, au Sénégal. Credit Cemil Oksuz/Anadolu Agency, via Agence France-Presse

La semaine dernière, les acteurs du procès de Hissène Habré se sont retrouvés ici pour leurs plaidoiries finales devant les Chambres africaines extraordinaires (CAE), un tribunal créé spécialement pour juger l’ancien président du Tchad. Habré, au pouvoir de juin 1982 à décembre 1990, est poursuivi, entre autres, pour de nombreux crimes de guerre et crimes contre l’humanité commis contre ses opposants politiques.

Le procès est un événement majeur dans le domaine de la justice pénale internationale. Il est exceptionnel qu’un tribunal d’un pays juge l’ancien président d’un autre pays. Il est inédit que cela se déroule devant un tribunal expressément mandaté par l’Union africaine pour juger l’un des siens “au nom de l’Afrique.”…  Seguir leyendo »

Relatives of victims of the former Chadian president attending a session of the special court set up to judge him, in Dakar, Senegal. Credit Cemil Oksuz/Anadolu Agency, via Agence France-Presse

Last week the parties to the trial of Hissène Habré gathered here to make their closing arguments before the Extraordinary African Chambers (E.A.C.), a court specially set up to judge the former president of Chad. Mr. Habré, who was in power from June 1982 to December 1990, stands accused, among other things, of committing numerous crimes against humanity and war crimes against his political opponents.

This trial is a major event in the field of international criminal justice. It’s uncommon for one country to judge the former president of another country. It’s unprecedented for this to take place before a court expressly appointed by the African Union to pass judgment on one of its own “in the name of Africa.”…  Seguir leyendo »

Reunir una lista de las guerras a las que más atención y apoyo debe prestar la comunidad internacional en 2016 es difícil, y no por buenos motivos. Tras el fin de la guerra fría, durante veinte años, el número de conflictos mortales disminuyó. Había menos guerras y mataban a menos gente. Sin embargo, hace cinco años, esa tendencia positiva se invirtió, y desde entonces cada año hay más conflictos, más víctimas y más personas desplazadas. No parece que en 2016 vaya a mejorar la situación de 2015: lo que está en alza no es la paz, sino la guerra.

Dicho esto, hay algunos conflictos cuya urgencia y cuya importancia son mayores que las de otros.…  Seguir leyendo »

U.S. Army soldier provides security for infantry patrolling through Dandarh village, Afghanistan.

Pulling together a list of the wars most in need of international attention and support in 2016 is challenging for all the wrong reasons. For 20 years after the end of the Cold War, deadly conflict was in decline. Fewer wars were killing fewer people the world over. Five years ago, however, that positive trend went into reverse, and each year since has seen more conflict, more victims, and more people displaced. 2016 is unlikely to bring an improvement from the woes of 2015: It is war — not peace — that has momentum.

That said, there are conflicts whose urgency and importance rise above.…  Seguir leyendo »

A month ago on Thursday, time stopped for me. I will forever remember the intense emotion I felt when the man who had ruled my country with a bloody fist stood a few yards away from us. The feeling that bonded us all that day in Dakar -- widows and survivors of Hissène Habré's regime -- was indescribable. Finally, we were beginning to experience the justice that we had awaited for so long.

After 25 years, Habré, Chad's former dictator, is in the dock at the Extraordinary African Chambers created by Senegal and the African Union. I have wanted to write these words since God allowed me to recover my freedom after 2½ years in the desolate dungeons that were Habré's jails.…  Seguir leyendo »

Surrounded by 10 muscular prison guards, Hissène Habré, his frail body entirely swathed in white, looked smothered in his chair. He was sitting in the front row of the immense courtroom, fingering Muslim prayer beads. His boubou covered all but his eyes, and they were partly hidden by his glasses.

Mr. Habré, the 72-year-old former president of Chad, is accused of crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture regarding the deaths of an alleged 40,000 people during his rule between 1982 and 1990. July 20 was the first day of his trial before the Extraordinary African Chambers, a special court he has repeatedly denounced as “illegitimate and illegal.”…  Seguir leyendo »

Plus de 600 victimes entendues et près d’une trentaine de témoins-clés auditionnés. C’est une petite révolution judiciaire qui est en cours depuis peu au Tchad. Pour la première fois en Afrique, les juridictions d’un Etat du continent, le Sénégal, enquêtent sur des crimes internationaux commis sur le territoire d’un autre, le Tchad. Une commission rogatoire est en déplacement à N’Djaména pour enquêter sur les crimes présumés de l’ex-dictateur tchadien Hissène Habré. En ce mois d’été pluvieux, une foule de victimes est entassée dans le commissariat de N’Djaména. Elles sont des centaines à venir, de toutes les régions du pays. Dure réalité du Tchad qui s’impose aux Sénégalais : rares sont les familles de la société tchadienne non touchées par les désastres du régime de Habré.…  Seguir leyendo »