RELATIONS between Chad and Libya have steadily improved under
the government of Idriss Deby, opening the door for an influx of
finance from the north and radical Islamic ideas from Sudan.
This has created a potentially divisive situation for the Deby
One the one hand, Libya is determined to wield influence in its
southern neighbor. One the other, France, the former colonial
power, retains a military and economic presence here in direct
response to a preceived Libyan threat.
"Because of improved relations between Libya and Chad, there's
no reason for the French to stay," Libya's ambassador in Chad,
Gheith Saif-Annaser, said in an interview. "It's not easy to accept
a foreign presence in any neighboring country."
Libya, which has allied itself with numerous factions in Chad
since the late 1970s and wielded direct influence there until
former dictator Hissein Habre came to power in 1982, is now
increasing its influence on all levels. The commercial Chad-Libyan
Bank, which was closed in 1982, is expected to reopen in August
with $2.4 million of Libyan capital and $1.4 million of Chadian
Over the past year, Libya has channeled funds to northern
Chadian Muslims through the Tripoli-based Islamic Call Society,
which gives assistance to poor Muslims. Libya has also provide farm
equipment, anti-colera vacinations, and 1,200 metic tons of food
during periods of shortage last year. More food aid is expected
Meanwhile the Deby government is relying on $18.5 million per
year from France to pay government salaries. France also maintains
750 troops and 10 fighter aircraft that it sent to Chad in 1986 to
help then-President Habre repel Libyan territorial claims in the
north. Senior French sources say the Libyan factor is the only
reason for France's continuing military presence.
(Libya first annexed the "Aozou strip" in 1973, and France has
been bristling ever since. The issue is now before the
International Court of Justice.)
Chadian government attitudes toward Libya reflect the growing
divisions within the administration. President Deby received arms
and money when he was training troops in Sudan's Darfur region
before he launched his 1990 invasion.
It is now believed that known-Libyan terrorists have been
entering the country on direct flights from Tripoli, which were
suspended only when Chad agreed to abide by the recent United
Nations sanctions against Libya.
The presence of terrorists, sources in N'Djamena say, has led
some Chadian government officials to demand their expulsion while
others called for closer ties with Libya. …