Idris Deby Itno celebrates 30 years in power this year

War chief, Idris Deby Itno made his country an essential element in the fight against jihadists in the Sahel and thus ensures his political longevity.

“Africa is a continent of leaders, which has its own realities. Political responsibility anyway rests with the president, whether there is a Prime Minister or not.” This is the response of Idriss Déby the newspaper Young Africa in an interview in November 2019 about the removal of the prime minister. As for the disappearance of the Constitutional Council and the High Court of Justice, “These were budget-eating institutions, which we had mimicked with the French system”says Idriss Déby. It can not be any clearer. There is only one chef in Chad: Idriss Déby Itno !

Finally, we must add to this assessment the new Constitution promulgated in 2018. It allows the Head of State to stand for two new six-year terms, at the end of the current one which ends in 2021.

In this interview granted to Young Africa, the Head of State of Chad reviews his longevity in power. Thirty years at the end of 2020. A presence imposed, according to him, by successive crises. Libya in 2011, the Central African Republic in 2016, Boko Haram…“Each time, it would have been irresponsible to leave and open the door to a civil war”, he pleads with our colleagues.

In this atmosphere of concentration of power, a glimmer of democracy appears with the announcement of the holding of legislative elections at the end of 2020. They have been postponed several times since 2015, officially due to the terrorist threat from Boko Haram.

However, can the opposition expect much from this election? To hear Success Masra, the young leader of the opposition party Transformers, the change can only be imposed. “There is only one way out. It is to calmly organize democratic changeover at the top of the state to allow new energy to come and bring about the change that Chad needs”, he explains to the Deutsch Welle. A statement of helplessness, the change will not come out of the ballot box.

Undoubtedly, Idriss Déby has acquired an international stature over the course of these crises, making it essential in the region. It has even become the essential support of France in the fight against the jihadists. Thus, the Chadian army participated in Operation Serval in 2013 alongside France to stop the Islamist offensive in Mali.

A powerful and well-trained Chadian army. It is a vital link in the G5-Sahel group, the only one that can really provide support for Operation Barkhane. A force which undoubtedly explains why Western countries have little regard for the internal policy led by Idriss Déby.

Idriss Déby’s economic record is much less brilliant. The country remained poor. It is ranked 186th out of 189 on the United Nations Human Development Index. Becoming an oil producer in 2003, it first benefited from a $ 100 barrel. According to the World Bank, GDP per capita almost doubled between 2000 and 2017. But it went from far away, $ 500 per capita, less than half the average for the countries of the Sahel.

In addition, oil revenues have been largely injected into military equipment, depriving the country of this windfall. A war effort that Idriss Déby justifies by the regional situation.

Today, still according to the World Bank, the country monopolizes the last places of many development indices. To name just one: it has one of the highest maternal mortality rates with 856 deaths per 100 000 live births. Early motherhood, which affects 16% of adolescent girls aged 16 to 19.
All this while the country is hosting 450,000 refugees from neighboring countries, consequences of the region's crises.


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