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1 September 1988

Since its Independence in 1960 Chad has been torn apart by internal rebellion and civil war. A series of regimes have imposed various forms of arbitrary rule while large areas have been held under the changing fortunes of warlords, disaffected military commanders. opposition groups, guerrilla bands and foreign backed forces, including those of France and Libya.

Is it possible for a poor landlocked country with many different ethnic groups to build a viable Nation-State? Chad’s diverse population is divided between the numerous African Sara peoples of the far south, the Arabic speakers of the centre and the minority tribes of the northern third of the country. The Sara are mainly Christians and animists while the others are Muslims. Ethnic and religious antagonisms have been — and continue to be — fuelled by resentment at economic exactions, widespread corruption and arbitrary rule.

Conflict, whether in riots or civil war, has led to many thousands of people dying and hundreds of thousands fleeing into exile as refugees. Attempts by the OAU to bring about reconciliation have not been successful. Today with the regime of President Hissen Habré most of Chad is again under one government, this time dominated by a small minority group from the far north — but can Habré win the peace?Chad, Minority Rights Group report no 80, examines the roots and course of the conflict in this desperately poor African nation. Written by Kaye Whiteman. Editor-in Chief of West Africa and an experienced commentator on Africa, this report outlines Chad’s bloody history since Independence and its prospects for the future. Essential reading for all those interested in modern Africa and its future.

Please note that the terminology in the fields of minority rights and indigenous peoples’ rights has changed over time. MRG strives to reflect these changes as well as respect the right to self-identification on the part of minorities and indigenous peoples. At the same time, after over 50 years’ work, we know that our archive is of considerable interest to activists and researchers. Therefore, we make available as much of our back catalogue as possible, while being aware that the language used may not reflect current thinking on these issues.

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Kaye Whiteman