Country FilesCentralChad Country Profile 2015: All in the family


Posted on Tuesday, 24 November 2015 09:00

Chad Country Profile 2015: All in the family

By The Africa Report

altElectoral preparations will dominate the political debate in Chad in 2015 and into 2016.

The election timetable could be thrown off by delays in implementing biometric voter registration and disputes between the government and the opposition. The government resolved its conflict with Chinese investors in the oil sector, and production is set to grow as new fields come online.

With the opposition's history of boycotting polls, President Idriss Déby Itno's government has set up a dialogue with the country's political parties to ensure a minimal level of cooperation.

In February 2014 that led to a reformed Commission Electorale Nationale Indépendante (CENI) with 17 members each representing the ruling party and the opposition. Local elections were due to take place in 2014 but the CENI was only at the point of studying how to use biometrics at the middle of the year.

Oppositionists and electoral officials expressed doubts about the timing of the local elections, the legislative polls planned for 2015 and the presidential vote in April 2016, in which Déby plans to run for a fifth term.

Strong grip

Saleh Kebzabo of the Union Nationale pour la Démocratie et le Renouveau (UNDR) says that the opposition's goal for the legislative election is to more than double its representation to at least 65 seats so that it can prevent Déby and his allies from having a two-thirds majority in the 188-seat national assembly.

The UNDR is part of the Coordination des Partis Politiques pour la Défense de la Constitution umbrella group and says that the opposition front will choose a single candidate next year to face Déby in 2016.

The opposition and media regularly complain about the domineering role played by Déby and his Mouvement Patriotique du Salut in Chad's political life. Déby's grip on power seems as strong as ever and the threat of armed opposition groups has been put to rest due to a lack of support from Sudan.

altHe continues to name members of his family to positions of authority within government and the security services. His son Zakaria Idriss Déby Itno is his deputy cabinet director and has a growing profile. Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno, 29, is second in command for Chad's peacekeeping forces in Mali.

The government and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) expect strong growth through 2017 as new oil projects come online and production doubles from its 2013 level by 2016.

The IMF warns, however, that production is then set to peak at 88m barrels per annum in 2017 and begin to decline if there are no new discoveries. Commerce, transport and telecommunications are the main sectors driving growth outside of the oil sector.

Environmental dispute

China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) is one of the companies that will be increasing production over the next few years. The government revoked the company's five blocks in July 2014 after it was found to be dumping waste illegally, but they reached a $400m resolution to the dispute by October.

The state-owned Société des Hydrocarbures du Tchad is taking a more active role in the sector: it will now manage a 10% stake in the CNPC fields, and the state bought out Chevron's stake in the Doba field and the Chad-Cameroon export pipeline, with the help of a loan from commodity trader Glencore, earlier in 2014.

Despite power cuts and fuel shortages in 2014, the government's spending priority in the field of infrastructure in 2015 is related to the hosting of the AU summit planned for N'Djamena in July.

President Déby has been increasing his diplomatic overtures in recent years by trying to play a mediator's role in conflicts in Nigeria, the Central African Republic (CAR) and Mali.

While Chadian troops withdrew from the regional peacekeeping operation in the CAR amid claims that they shot civilians in March 2014, a much smaller force was back in September to provide security for transitional leader Catherine Samba-Panza.

Chad is also a priority partner for France's anti-terrorism operations in the Sahel, and President François Hollande was in the country in July 2014 to launch Opération Barkhane, France's new force of 3,000 troops spread across five countries and headquartered in Chad.


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