Country Listing

Chad Table of Contents




The headquarters of the PPT, with President Tombalbaye's picture on the sign
Courtesy Michael R. Saks

Preindependence Factions

Chad became part of French Equatorial Africa (Afrique Equatoriale Française--AEF; see Glossary) in 1905 and became a separate colony within the AEF in 1920 (see Arrival of the French and Colonial Administration , ch. 1). Colonial policy exploited the agricultural potential of the south, exacerbated regional animosities that were the result of centuries of slave raids from the north, and failed to prepare Chadian citizens for self-rule. During World War II, the colonial governor general, Félix Eboué, brought Chad to international attention by leading the AEF in support of Charles de Gaulle's Free French movement.

After the war, Gabriel Lisette and other political activists, including François Tombalbaye, established the Chadian Progressive Party (Parti Progressiste Tchadien--PPT). The PPT protected southern interests in competition with the more influential Chadian Democratic Union (Union Démocratique Tchadienne--UDT). The UDT was dominated by expatriates, who treated Chad's political arena as a forum for debate over events in Paris (see Decolonization Politics , ch. 1).

More than two dozen political parties and coalitions arose to oppose this Eurocentric view of local politics and to compete with the UDT and the PPT. These groups were generally aligned as southerners, northerners who sought to share in the nation's economic development, other northerners who opposed modernization, and socialist groups who hoped to replace the European-dominated economy with one oriented more toward local needs. Further fragmentation occurred along subregional and religious lines and over the question of the future role of expatriates in Chad.

Chad's 1946 constitution declared it an overseas territory of France. As French citizens, its people elected representatives to a territorial assembly, which in turn elected delegates to a French General Council for the AEF and to several governing bodies in France. Chadians demanded further political rights, however, including training in administrative and technical areas that would lead to self-government and the right to set their own political agenda independent of other francophone states. The PPT won a plurality in the Territorial Assembly, and Lisette became head of the first government established under the loi cadre of 1956, an enabling act that made Chad an autonomous republic within the French Community, instituted universal suffrage, and established a single electoral roll.

Demands for greater local control of politics led to dramatic political shifts in the late 1950s. The UDT, attempting to shed its expatriate emphasis, was reorganized and renamed Chadian Social Action (Action Sociale Tchadienne--AST). The AEF was dissolved in 1958 amid rising African demands for autonomy. A series of unstable provisional governments followed the ouster of Lisette as the PPT's leader in 1958. His successor, Tombalbaye, became head of the territorial assembly in 1959 and head of the nation's first independent government in August 1960.

Data as of December 1988