Consolidated Press News File
May 25, 2021
N’DJAMENA, CHAD — Last week, Mahamat Idriss Déby, the chairman of Chad’s Transitional Military Council, received a political endorsement from Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on a visit to Abuja. Nigeria follows in the footsteps of France and the United States, which have backed Déby’s administration.
Mahamat Déby succeeded his father, Idriss Déby, who had controlled Chad for more than three decades before being assassinated by rebels while visiting the army at the front last month. Civil rights organizations have questioned the shift of power, accusing the CMT of violating the country’s constitution, which requires new elections to be held within 90 days if the president is disabled.
According to US Department of State officials, Chad is a critical lynchpin for African stability and one of the key players in preventing the spread of Libya’s decade-long civil conflict throughout the continent. The CMT is Chad’s greatest option for sustaining peace in the face of the ever-present prospect of instability and warfare, as rebel groups gain clout and violence escalates in the area.
Buhari’s support for Mahamat Idriss Déby’s leadership echoed French President Emmanuel Macron’s sentiments, who was the only western head of state to attend his father’s burial. The Biden administration followed suit earlier this month, paying honor to Déby the older while also tacitly endorsing Déby the younger as the country’s next commander-in-chief for an 18-month transition period. In late May, the African Union backed the transition phase, rejecting calls from hardliners for elections to be held sooner.
Chad’s army is one of the most powerful in Sub-Saharan Africa with military alliances with both France and the US. Chad’s military has been essential in putting down insurgencies in neighboring Libya, Sudan, and the Central African Republic. It is one of the most powerful members of the G5 Sahel military alliance, having helped to dislodge and contain Boko Haram in the Lake Chad basin. CMT military might has kept the flood of violent dissension in the area at bay, which is why Paris and Washington are so desperate to avoid a power vacuum that may throw the fragile balance off.
A CMT led by Mahamat Idriss Déby looks to be the greatest choice for keeping the nation together and charting a path to fair and free elections in a reasonable timeframe. The nomination of a civilian prime minister is a positive step forward, and the international community should assist in a seamless transition. Déby’s personal military expertise and support from the Chadian army is another reason for endorsements from major Western power.