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Southern Dominance, 1960-1978

Tombalbaye banished Lisette and many of his supporters from Chad and eliminated Lisette's power base by dividing the Logone region of the south into three prefectures. Tombalbaye openly discriminated against the north, ignored the growing national political awareness that was evident during the postwar years, and established a repressive regime that contributed to Chad's fragmentation during his fifteen-year tenure as president.

Major regional rifts were complicated by intraregional divisions, especially in the north, where numerous warlords, each with an ethnic-based following or cadre of supporters, attempted to overthrow Tombalbaye's regime. In 1966 northern rebels united as the FROLINAT. They established bases in Sudan and received assistance from Algeria and Libya, but FROLINAT, too, was divided over military and political issues, attitudes toward Libya, interpretations of Islam, and individual leadership style (see The FROLINAT Rebellion, 1965-79 , ch. 5). An important split occurred in 1969 between northern factions and those from Chad's eastern and central regions, which had dominated the group for three years. Northern factions went on to form FROLINAT's Second Liberation Army (see Appendix B).

Tombalbaye expelled French troops from Chad but otherwise perpetuated the dependence established under colonial rule. He employed French advisers in many government posts and allowed France to control most of the nation's financial operations. Tombalbaye also strengthened presidential authority and resisted recommendations of his expatriate advisers, who urged him to decentralize authority to provincial officials and traditional leaders. Rather than assuage northern grievances or pacify the increasingly numerous rebel armies, Tombalbaye responded with repression. He dissolved the National Assembly in 1963 and eliminated rival political parties. He also jailed outspoken critics and closed down most public media. His repressive style and rebel violence were mutually reinforcing, leading Tombalbaye to recall French troops.

Amid increasing destabilization in the early 1970s, Tombalbaye sought first to protect southern interests. He implemented the authenticité movement, an ill-conceived campaign (modeled on that of Zairian president Mobutu Sese Seko) that deemed southern cultural characteristics more authentic than those of the north. Opponents successfully exploited public outrage when Tombalbaye required civil servants to undergo yondo--traditional initiation rites indigenous only to his ethnic constituency among the Sara population of the south (see Classical African Religions , ch. 2). Weak efforts to pacify the north by granting limited autonomy to traditional leaders and releasing prominent political prisoners served only to recruit new dissidents.

After Muammar al Qadhaafi seized power in Libya in 1969, he exploited Chad's instability by stationing troops in northern Chad and by channeling support to Chadian insurgents. Although Tombalbaye expelled Libyan diplomats in 1971, blaming them for inciting a coup attempt and inspiring unrest, in general he sought a balance between concessions and resistance to Qadhaafi's regional designs, hoping to persuade Qadhaafi to reduce his support for Chadian insurgents. Tombalbaye voiced a willingness to cede the Aozou Strip and did not object to Libyan troops' being stationed there after 1973. Chad erupted in renewed protests against Tombalbaye's unpopular and weakened regime, culminating in a successful coup against him in 1975.

General Félix Malloum, a former government critic imprisoned by Tombalbaye, proclaimed himself head of the Supreme Military Council (Conseil Supérieur Militaire--CSM), which seized power in 1975. As a southerner with strong kinship ties to the north, Malloum believed that he could reconcile Chad's divided regions and establish representative institutions. He set a high priority on freeing Chad from French economic and political control, but in this effort he was unsuccessful. He sent French combat forces home, but he retained several hundred French advisers and renegotiated a series of military accords to ensure emergency aid.

Malloum was unable to convert dissatisfaction with Tombalbaye's regime into acceptance of his own. His opponents exploited popular displeasure with the remaining French presence by recruiting new dissidents. In response to this threat, Malloum seized control of all branches of government and, in the increasingly repressive manner that characterized his presidency, banned almost all political activity. His opposition coalesced around FROLINAT, which established alternative administrations in outlying areas to compete with N'Djamena. In 1978, in the face of mounting violence, Malloum reluctantly called for the return of French forces (see Civil Conflict and Libyan Intervention , ch. 5).

Data as of December 1988

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