Chad: Towards Democratisation or Petro-Dictatorship?

Chad: Towards Democratisation or Petro-Dictatorship?

Chad: Towards Democratisation or Petro-Dictatorship?

Chad: Towards Democratisation or Petro-Dictatorship?


Chad is currently undergoing two processes of utmost importance for its future--democratization and oil extraction. The democratization process has been slow and almost come to a stalemate; meanwhile the oil extraction has accelerated. The president, Idriss D by, is leading both, and they are clearly not independent of each other. This paper provides studies of the two and aims to analyze the backgrounds and prospects of success, as well as their effects on each other.

Comparing Chad with the experience from other developing oil countries, the paper examines the most probable scenario that the oil project further jeopardizes the democratic process in Chad and leads to increasing centralization and corruption in the government. The population welfare will be improved to some extent, but far from what could be expected from the oil incomes, which will be partly mismanaged.

The paper also analyses the effects of the possible implementation of control mechanisms and local and international checks and balance systems, and how a coordinated cooperation between the Chadian government and the civil society around effective poverty reduction strategy and good governance, with support from the World Bank and the international community, could work.


The Central African country Chad is currently being transformed into an oil economy with at least a billion barrels of oil under its territory. At the same time, the country has been undergoing a democratisation process for the last fifteen years. The president and former warlord Idriss Déby and the World Bank have obviously given the oil export and its management control mechanism higher priority than the democratisation, but the two are inter-dependent. This study provides detailed backgrounds to both processes and analyses how the democratisation process could be positively affected by the oil incomes.

In 1990 Chad saw another military takeover of government. Chad had never experienced any other type of power succession and probably expected the current one to be just as violent. In the wave of democratisation rolling over Africa, a new democratic constitution was adopted and a presidential election took place which the initiator Idriss Déby as the winner. Fifteen years later the same president is still in power, and an amended constitution will allow him to be a candidate for a third period in 2006. Is this evidence of governmental excellence or democratic failure? Has the internally led post-conflict reconstruction and democratisation process in Chad achieved progress in national reconciliation, human rights, power sharing or creation of national unity? What are the future prospects?

Oil was discovered in Chad as early as in the 1970s. The country’s history of continuous civil wars postponed the extraction, and meanwhile the international experience of the black gold showed a cruel paradox: immense revenues from oil neither benefit the poor, nor the growth of the economy as a whole. Typically, they generate rich and corrupt elites and aggravate internal conflicts. In Chad today, three oil companies, the World Bank and the governments of Chad and Cameroon are working together on the oil project, and external control mechanisms have been installed to assure the use of oil incomes for socio-economic development and poverty reduction. Export started in late 2003 and the economic growth in 2004 exceeded 30 per cent! What are the chances that the oil incomes controlled by external conditionalities will have a positive effect on good governance, poverty reduction and the democratisation process in the long term? How have the mutual dependencies and incentives of the actors developed and what are the future prospects?

The study is based on broad research of secondary sources. Academic articles, books, magazines, daily newspapers as well as publications and documents from the WB, the oil companies, Chadian, French, and Dutch research institutes, and nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) have been weighed together in a manner . . .

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