The challenges that lie in wait for Chad
Friday, April 23, 2021       02:36 WIB

Libreville, April 22, 2021 (AFP)
With Chad's veteran strongman leader Idriss Deby Itno killed on the battlefield, his son Mahamat faces immediate and major challenges at the head of a military junta.
The inexperienced 37-year-old has promised democratic elections but for now has appointed his 15 most trusted generals to help run the desert state.
AFP takes a look at those challenges:
- Is the army united? -
The army has been the mainstay of the de facto military regime for 30 years.
After Idriss Deby seized power in a 1990 coup, he successfully positioned his allies -- most of them members of his Zaghawa ethnic group -- in key army posts.
However since the early 2000s, and particularly over recent months, clan unity has cracked open and some officers have been removed, palace sources say.
Since the transition council was announced on Tuesday, and despite an official show of unity behind Mahamat by top brass, dissensions have appeared in public.
General Idriss Mahamat Abderamane Diko, who was close to the late president, told Voice of America radio the council was just a tiny circle skirting round the law.
"There is no army unity behind Mahamat Idriss Deby, there are internal tensions," noted Kelma Manatouma, a Chadian political science researcher at the Paris-Nanterre university.
"There is a risk of clashes, certain groups may feel themselves marginalised and there could be scores settled, a night of the long knives," said Roland Marchal of the International Research Centre ( CERI ) at Sciences Po university in Paris.
Mahamat "is far too young and not especially well-liked by other officers," he added.
- What about the rebels? -
Front for Change and Concord in Chad ( FACT ) rebels launched a major incursion in the north on the day of the presidential election, April 11.
Fighting raged 300 kilometres (180 miles) north of the capital N'Djamena last weekend.
Foreign observers and the army reported heavy enough losses among FACT combatants to prevent them marching on the capital anytime soon.
However other rebel factions have rallied to FACT and see the president's death and reported differences within the army ranks as an opportunity not to be missed.
The rebels issued a statement Monday saying they were moving on N'Djamena.
"The FACT rebels can launch an assault but their military capacity is limited," Marchal said.
"Several groups can also join in and cause problems but they will fail because France is well implanted in Chad and will not let it happen."
For France, the former colonial power, Chad is an essential ally against Islamist extremism in Africa's Sahel region.
French forces rescued Idriss Deby's regime from rebels at least twice -- in 2008 and again in 2019.
President Emmanuel Macron will attend Deby's funeral on Friday alongside the son and new ruler.
- Political transition? -
The opposition has decried an "institutional coup d'etat" but they are divided and failed to put up a viable challenge to Deby in the presidential poll.
Before the vote, opposition street protests were crushed.
"I think an emergency dialogue needs to be set up," Deby's historic rival Saleh Kebzabo told AFP in an interview.
However the powerful ruling Patriotic Salvation Movement, which has dominated politics for 30 years, is supporting the military transition.
"There is today an implicit alliance between the movement, several satellite parties and the council," Manatouma said.
- Major economic challenges -
The United Nations ranks Chad as the third least developed country in the world.
In 2018, some 42 percent of the population lived below the poverty line, according to the World Bank, despite strong oil revenues which make up 40 percent of gross domestic product and more than 60 percent of state income.
However Idriss Deby and the Zaghawa community stand accused by the opposition and international aid groups of looting state coffers throughout the last three decades.
"Many educated youngsters who cannot find work end up as taxi drivers and this social discontent is dangerous for the powers that be," Manatouma said.

Sumber : AFP