Civil War and Northern Dominance, 1975-82
The coup d'état that terminated Tombalbaye's government received an enthusiastic response in N'Djamena. Malloum emerged as the chairman of the new Supreme Military Council (Conseil Supérieur Militaire--CSM). His government contained more Muslims from northern and eastern Chad, but ethnic and regional dominance still remained very much in the hands of southerners. The successor government soon overturned many of Tombalbaye's more odious policies. For example, the CSM attempted to distribute external drought relief assistance more equitably and efficiently and devised plans to develop numerous economic reforms, including reductions in taxes and government expenditures.
Neither reformers nor skilled administrators, the new military leaders were unable to retain for long the modicum of authority, legitimacy, and popularity that they had gained through their overthrow of the unpopular Tombalbaye. The expectations of most urban Chadians far exceeded the capacity of the new government--or possibly any government--to satisfy them. It soon became clear, moreover, that the new leaders (mostly southern military officers) saw themselves as caretakers rather than innovators, and few of Tombalbaye's close associates were punished. Throughout its tenure, the CSM was unable to win the support of the capital's increasingly radicalized unions, students, and urban dwellers. The government suspended the National Union of Chadian Workers (Union Nationale de Travailleurs du Tchad--UNTT) and prohibited strikes, but labor and urban unrest continued from 1975 through 1978. On the first anniversary of the formation of the CSM, Malloum was the target of a grenade attack that injured several top officials and spectators. A year after that, in March 1977, the CSM executed summarily the leaders of a short-lived mutiny by several military units in N'Djamena.
The fundamental failures of Malloum's government, however, were most evident in its interactions with France, Libya, and FROLINAT. In his first few months in office, Malloum persuaded a few eastern rebel elements to join the new government. In the north, the derde (Oueddei Kichidemi) returned from exile in Libya in August 1975. But his son, Goukouni Oueddei, refused to respond to his entreaties or those of the government and remained in opposition. When the Command Council of the Army Armed Forces of the North (Conseil de Commandement des Forces Armées du Nord-- CCFAN), a structure set up in 1972 by Habré and Goukouni to represent northern elements in FROLINAT, continued to refuse negotiations with the CSM over the release of the hostage French archaeologist, France began dealing directly with the rebels. Malloum's government reacted to this embarrassment by demanding the departure of 1,500 French troops, at a time in late 1975 when Chad's military situation was beginning to worsen. Throughout 1976 and 1977, the military balance of power shifted in favor of FROLINAT as Libya provided the rebels with substantially more weaponry and logistical support than ever before. Faya Largeau was placed under siege twice in 1976, and then in June 1977 Bardaï fell to the CCFAN.
The sharp increase in Libyan activity also brought to a head the power struggle within the CCFAN between Goukouni and Habré. In 1971 Habré had left his position as a deputy prefect in the Tombalbaye government to join Goukouni's rebels. Goukouni and Habré, ambitious Toubou leaders from two different and competing clans, became bitter rivals, first within the CCFAN and later within all of Chad. In the CCFAN, the key issues dividing the men were relations with Libya and the handling of the hostage affair. Habré opposed vigorously all Libyan designs on the Aozou Strip and favored retaining the French hostage even after most of the ransom demands had been met. Goukouni felt that priority should go to the conflict with the CSM, for which Libyan assistance could be decisive, and that the kidnapping had already achieved more than enough. Habré finally split with him in 1976, taking a few hundred followers to fight in Batha and Biltine prefectures and retaining for his group the name FAN. Goukouni and his followers prevailed (the CCFAN released the hostage to French authorities in January 1977).
As the military position of the CSM continued to decline in 1977, Malloum's political overtures to the rebel groups and leaders became increasingly flexible. In September Malloum and Habré met in Khartoum to begin negotiations on a formal alliance. Their efforts culminated in a carefully drafted agreement, the Fundamental Charter, which formed the basis of the National Union Government of August 1978. Malloum was named president of the new government, while Habré, as prime minister, became the first significant insurgent figure to hold an executive position in a postcolonial government.
Habré's ascension to power in N'Djamena was intended to signal to Goukouni and other rebel leaders the government's willingness to negotiate seriously following its reversals on the battlefield in 1978. In February Faya Largeau fell to FROLINAT, and with it roughly half the country's territory. Shortly thereafter, Malloum flew to Sabha in southern Libya to negotiate a cease-fire, but even as it was being codified in March, FROLINAT's position was hardening. Goukouni claimed that all three liberation armies were now united under his leadership in the new People's Armed Forces (Forces Armées Populaires--FAP) and that their objective remained the overthrow of the "dictatorial neocolonial regime imposed by France on Chad since August 11, 1960." FAP continued to advance toward the capital until it was halted near Ati in major battles with French military forces and units of the Chadian Armed Forces (Forces Armées Tchadiennes--FAT). It was Malloum's hope that the FROLINAT leadership would soften its terms, or possibly undergo renewed fragmentation.
Civil War and Multilateral Mediation, 1979-82
From 1979 to 1982, Chad experienced unprecedented change and spiraling violence. Southerners finally lost control of what remained of the Chadian government, while civil conflicts became significantly more internationalized. In early 1979, the fragile Malloum-Habré alliance collapsed after months of aggressive actions by Habré, including demands that more northerners be appointed to high government offices and that Arabic be used in place of French in broadcasting. Appealing for support among the large communities of Muslims and Arabs in N'Djamena, Habré unleashed his FAN on February 12. With the French garrison remaining uninvolved, FAN sent Malloum into retirement (under French protection) and drove the remnants of FAT toward the south. On February 22, Goukouni and FAP entered the capital. By this time, most of the city's Sara population had fled to the south, where attacks against Muslims and nonsoutherners erupted, particularly in Sarh, Moundou, and throughout Moyen-Chari Prefecture. By mid-March more than 10,000 were said to have died as a result of violence throughout the south.
In early 1979, Chad became an open arena of unrestrained factional politics. Opportunistic power seekers sought to gather followers (often using sectarian appeals) and to win support from Chad's African neighbors. Between March 10 and August 21, four separate conferences took place in the Nigerian cities of Kano and Lagos, during which Chad's neighbors attempted to establish a political framework acceptable to the warring factions. Chad's neighbors, however, also used the meetings to pursue interests of their own, resulting in numerous externally generated complications and a growing number of factions brought into the process. For example, at one point, Qadhaafi became so angry with Habré that the Libyan sent arms to Colonel Wadel Abdelkader Kamougué's anti-Habré faction in the south, even though Kamougué was also anti-Libyan. At the second conference in Kano, both Habré and Goukouni were placed under what amounted to house arrest so Nigeria could promote the chances of a Kanembu leader, Mahmat Shawa Lol. In fact, Nigerian support made Lol the Chadian titular head of state for a few weeks, even though his Third Liberation Army was only a phantom force, and his domestic political support was insignificant. Within Chad the warring parties used the conferences and their associated truces to recover from one round of fighting and prepare for the next.
The final conference culminated in the Lagos Accord of August 21, 1979, which representatives of eleven Chadian factions signed and the foreign ministers of nine other African states witnessed. The Lagos Accord established the procedures for setting up the Transitional Government of National Unity (Gouvernement d'Union Nationale de Transition--GUNT), which was sworn into office in November. By mutual agreement, Goukouni was named president, Kamougué was appointed vice-president, and Habré was named minister of national defense, veterans, and war victims. The distribution of cabinet positions was balanced between south (eleven portfolios), north, center, and east (thirteen), and among protégés of neighboring states. A peacekeeping mission of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), to be drawn from troops from Congo, Guinea, and Benin, was to replace the French. This force never materialized in any effective sense, but the OAU was committed to GUNT under the presidency of Goukouni.
GUNT, however, failed. Its major participants deeply mistrusted each other, and they never achieved a sense of coherence. As a result, the various factional militias remained armed. By January 1980, a unit of Habré's army was attacking the forces of one of the constituent groups of GUNT in Ouaddaï Prefecture. Shortly thereafter, N'Djamena plunged into another cycle of violence, and by the end of March 1980 Habré was openly defying the government, having taken control of a section of the capital. The 600 Congolese troops of the OAU peacekeeping force remained out of the fray, as did the French, while units of five separate Chadian armies prowled the streets of N'Djamena. The battles continued throughout the summer, punctuated by more OAU mediation efforts and five formal cease-fires.
It became evident that the profound rivalry between Goukouni and Habré was at the core of the conflict. By mid-1980 the south-- cut off from communication and trade with N'Djamena and defended by a regrouped, southern army--had become a state within a state. Colonel Kamougué, the strongman of the south, remained a prudent distance away from the capital and waited to negotiate with whichever northerner emerged as the winner.
In 1980 the beleaguered Goukouni turned to Libya, much as he had done four years earlier. With the French forces having departed in mid-May 1980, Goukouni signed a military cooperation treaty with Libya in June (without prior approval of the all-but-defunct GUNT). In October he requested direct military assistance from Qadhaafi, and by December Libyan forces had firm control of the capital and most other urban centers outside the south. Habré fled to Sudan, vowing to resume the struggle.
Although Libyan intervention enabled Goukouni to win militarily, the association with Qadhaafi created diplomatic problems for GUNT. In January 1981, when Goukouni and Qadhaafi issued a joint communiqué stating that Chad and Libya had agreed to "work for the realization of complete unity between the two countries," an international uproar ensued. Although both leaders later denied any intention to merge their states politically, the diplomatic damage had been done.
Throughout 1981 most of the members of the OAU, along with France and the United States, encouraged Libyan troops to withdraw from Chad. One week after the "unity communiqué," the OAU's committee on Chad met in Togo to assess the situation. In a surprisingly blunt resolution, the twelve states on the committee denounced the union goal as a violation of the 1979 Lagos Accord, called for Libya to withdraw its troops, and promised to provide a peacekeeping unit, the Inter-African Force (IAF). Goukouni was skeptical of OAU promises, but in September he received a French pledge of support for his government and the IAF.
But as Goukouni's relations with the OAU and France improved, his ties with Libya deteriorated. One reason for this deterioration was that the economic assistance that Libya had promised never materialized. Another, and perhaps more significant, factor was that Qadhaafi was strongly suspected of helping Goukouni's rival within GUNT, Acyl Ahmat, leader of the Democratic Revolutionary Council (Conseil Démocratique Révolutionnaire--CDR). Both Habré and Goukouni feared Acyl because he and many of the members of the CDR were Arabs of the Awlad Sulayman tribe. About 150 years earlier, this group had migrated from Libya to Chad and thus represented the historical and cultural basis of Libyan claims in Chad.
As a consequence of the Libya-Chad rift, Goukouni asked the Libyan forces in late October 1981 to leave, and by mid-November they had complied. Their departure, however, allowed Habré's FAN-- reconstituted in eastern Chad with Egyptian, Sudanese, and, reportedly, significant United States assistance--to win key positions along the highway from Abéché to N'Djamena. Habré was restrained only by the arrival and deployment in December 1981 of some 4,800 IAF troops from Nigeria, Senegal, and Zaire.
In February 1982, a special OAU meeting in Nairobi resulted in a plan that called for a cease-fire, negotiations among all parties, elections, and the departure of the IAF; all terms were to be carried out within six months. Habré accepted the plan, but Goukouni rejected it, asserting that Habré had lost any claim to legitimacy when he broke with GUNT. When Habré renewed his military advance toward N'Djamena, the IAF remained essentially neutral, just as the French had done when FROLINAT marched on Malloum three years earlier. FAN secured control of the capital on June 7. Goukouni and other members of GUNT fled to Cameroon and eventually reappeared in Libya. For the remainder of the year, Habré consolidated his power in much of war-weary Chad and worked to secure international recognition for his government.
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