May 2 – US and French imperialism have divergent interests in resolving the ongoing crisis in Chad. They also share common interests in keeping imperialism dominant. The crisis stems from the death of Chadian President Idriss Déby in combat on April 20 against the front of the FACT armed opposition.
At present, it seems that French imperialism has the advantage, while the US government is taking steps to ensure that its interests are protected.
FACT, the Front pour l’Alternance et la Concorde au Tchad, is an armed group, based in southern Libya, whose main political demand is the elimination of the Deby regime. He seems to be well supplied with heavy weapons. Hence is not clear.
The headquarters of Operation Barkhane, France’s military intervention in the Sahel – the band of ccountries stretching across Africa to the edge of the Sahara Desert – lies in N’Djamena, the capital of Chad. AFRICOM, the US Africa Command, also has a base in N’Djamena.
Chad’s main value for French and American imperialism appears to be strategic. It is in central Africa and borders with Nigeria, around Lake Chad, Niger, Libya, Sudan, Central African Republic and Cameroon. It has a well-trained, well-equipped and well-led army which has been very useful in operations against Boko Haram in northern Nigeria and resisting Islamic groups in the triangle formed by Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.
Mahamat Idriss Déby, one of the sons of Idriss Déby, an army general, quickly established a military council, dissolved the government and parliament and promised transparent, free and fair elections in 18 months. While Idriss Déby’s election to another presidential term was to be announced on the day of his assassination, this action by Mahamat Déby was still an illegal coup.
Demonstrations were organized in N’Djamena and also in Moundou, the second largest city in Chad in the south, where agriculture is the main occupation.
The protests were quickly interrupted by cops using tear gas and live ammunition. According to Baldal Oyamta, the Chadian human rights coordinator, at least nine people were killed and 50 people were seriously injured. Scores were stopped. (tinyurl.com/ykmpyd4d)
Gounoung Vaïma is secretary general of the Union of Chadian Trade Unions (UST). He gave an interview to Tchadinfo, a website covering current events and events in Chad, on the eve of May 1. Vaïma said: “Right now we are asking the workers not to come in because we don’t know what might happen. We don’t want to denounce people. He went on to say, “The purpose of UST is radical change.” (tinyurl.com/yvjxk2eb)