Chad Table of Contents
The residence of a subprefect, often the only symbol of
government in rural areas
Courtesy Michael R. Saks
Throughout the 1980s, Chad was divided into fourteen prefectures (see fig. 1). Each was further subdivided into subprefectures, administrative posts, and cantons. Most prefectures were divided into two to five subprefectures; the total number of subprefectures was fifty-four. Administrative posts and cantons were often organized around traditional social units, especially in areas where an existing bureaucratic structure could represent the state. In general, the national government relied on traditional leaders to represent its authority in rural areas. In many of these areas, civil servants could not maintain order, collect taxes, or enforce government edicts without the cooperation of respected local leaders.
Administrators at each of these levels (prefects, subprefects, administrators, and canton chiefs) were appointed by the president or the minister of interior and remained in office until the president dismissed them. Each prefect was assisted by a consultative council composed of ten or more members nominated by the prefect and approved by the minister of interior. Traditional leaders were often included, and council protocol was sometimes based on local rank and status distinctions.
During the 1960s, the government granted municipal status to nine towns, based on their ability to finance their own budgets. These municipalities generated most of their revenues through administrative fees, fines, and taxes, and they organized communal work projects for many city improvements. Their governing bodies were relatively autonomous municipal councils, chosen by popular consensus or informal elections. Each council, in turn, elected a mayor from its own ranks. The official policy of autonomy for municipal councils was generally overridden by the requirement that almost all council decisions be ratified by the prefect or the minister of interior.
Data as of December 1988