Chad





Basic Data

Chad

Official Country Name: Republic of Chad
Region (Map name): Africa
Population: 8,424,504

Chad

Language(s): French, Arabic, Sara, Sango
Literacy rate: 48.1%

Background & General Characteristics

Chad is a large, politically unstable, militarized, multiparty democracy located in central Africa, south of Libya, west of the Sudan, north of the Central African Republic and Cameroon, and east of Nigeria and Niger. Its capital is N'Djamena. Chad's 8.5 million people live in one of the poorest countries in the world, despite the fact that many lucrative natural resources, including oil, gold, and uranium, are to be found which could be developed to yield significantly greater prosperity and social benefits for Chad's population. Thirty years of civil war and internal conflict have impoverished the people of Chad and made even rudimentary economic and social development extremely difficult.

Only in the early twenty-first century was a 650-mile oil pipeline project started in Chad and neighboring Cameroon in order to bring oil up from the expectedly numerous deposits lying below the surface of these two countries. The Exxon-Shell pipeline project, officially known as the Chad-Cameroon Oil Pipeline, will take 25 to 30 years to complete and involves drilling nearly 600 oil wells. The pipeline project is likely to bring an influx of multinationals and to increase the potential for government corruption and scandals as the oil industry is developed. It also has been remarked that the increasing oil wealth should be closely watched so as to avoid government corruption, particularly since radical Islam is on the rise in Chad and could easily become a stronger political force given oil profits or corrupt officials misusing oil monies.

The World Bank in mid-2002 was deliberating adding its financial support to the oil pipeline project and was scheduled to take a vote on this in October 2002. Much concern has been expressed by environmentalists and human rights activists that the project not follow the same path as oil development in Nigeria, which has devastated the originally pristine natural environment and destroyed the health and welfare of thousands, if not millions, of indigenous peoples living in the oil industry's way. On the positive side, the World Bank appointed an International Advisory Group (IAG) to examine the implications of the Cameroon-Chad pipeline project for the region's poor and to monitor government use of oil revenues. The IAG apparently was welcomed by at least some of Chad's journalists, who believed an independent monitoring body would better protect the country from government corruption.

The main languages used in Chad are Arabic in the north and French in the south. In terms of religious affiliation and ethnicity, the northerners are mainly light-skinned Arab Muslims and the southerners dark-skinned Christians, similar to the situation in neighboring Sudan. Decades of political violence linked to religious and ethnic differences and exploited by those hungry to take or remain in power, combined with severe drought conditions, have prevented Chad, primarily a desert nation, from developing a workable infrastructure, social services, and political stability. In consequence, the expected lifespan in Chad is quite short: 45 years for men and 50 years for women.

As of 2002 the president of Chad was Idriss Déby, who took power initially in 1990, promising "no journalist will be prosecuted and from now on newspapers are free." However, as Reporters without Borders pointed out in their annual report for 2002, this desirable state of affairs had not yet materialized, nearly a dozen years later. Idriss' initial rise to the presidency was backed by Libya. After eight years of enduring a difficult political situation in which the north of the country was governed by one ruler and government and the south of Chad by another regime, Chad held its first multiparty elections. Though falling considerably short of international standards for free and fair electoral practices, the 1996 election confirmed Idriss as president, as he received about two-thirds of the vote on the first ballot. Violent unrest erupted throughout the country following the contested election for several weeks, several state electoral commission members resigned from their posts to protest the apparently fraudulent election, and the opposition candidates who ran against Déby threatened lawsuits due to the high levels of fraud that marked the election.

Since the 1996 election, continued armed rebellions have plagued the country, especially in the north. Riots in southern Chad in October 1997 left 80 unarmed civilians dead, massacred by government security forces from primarily the president's own ethnic group. In March 1998, apparently 100 additional unarmed civilians were killed.

The most popular, prevalent form of media is radio, owing to the high levels of illiteracy and poverty in the country. The government, opposition parties, and other private parties such as the Catholic Church and nongovernmental human rights groups all publish newspapers.

The government directly controls two newspapers, Info Tchad and Victoire and shapes the weekly paper, Le Progres. Numerous private newspapers publish in the capital, including N'Djamena Hebdo, an independent weekly, L'Observateur, an independent bi-monthly, and two other key independent papers, Le Temps and Le Contact.

Very little freedom of expression or of the press exists in Chad. As Amnesty International's 2002 annual report put it, "Freedom of expression continued to be threatened and human rights defenders worked in a climate of intimidation and danger." Criticizing the president or other government officials, reporting on the northern rebellion, or casting government officials in an unfavorable light are sufficient causes for landing journalists and parliamentarians—and occasionally even private citizens—in jail. For example, one Member of Parliament, Yorongar Ngarleyji, was imprisoned for several months after criticizing the oil pipeline project.

Economic Framework

Chad has only recently begun to develop its oil resources. Its main exports are much less technologically complex: cotton, livestock, and textiles. Annual per capita income is quite low—only about US$200. The population in the north of Chad consists primarily of nomadic pastoralists, herding livestock to make their living. The southerners, on the other hand, depend more heavily on settled agriculture and urban trade, since Chad's major cities, including the capital, are located in the southern half of the country.

The private press suffers to some extent from the imposition of high government licensing fees. Nonetheless, a number of private newspapers are published, and many do not hesitate to openly criticize government officials, policies, and practices.

In 1994 a fund was legally established to assist the privately owned presses. However, none has ever been granting funding from this purse. Government-run media also are subject to financial problems, since funding is less than plentiful to replace outmoded, broken equipment. Consequently, broadcasting via the Radiodiffusion nationale tchadienne (RNT), the government-owned radio station, can only be effectively accomplished in major urban areas.

Press Laws

The 1996 multiparty Constitution officially guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of the press. However, in practice the government severely restricts press freedom and to a somewhat lesser degree, freedom of speech.

The government communication regulatory authority, the High Council of Communications (HCC), ruled in April 2001 that political debates during the election campaign would be banned from broadcasts on private radio stations, that no one would be permitted to comment on news bulletins, and that radio stations found to be in non-compliance with the stipulations would be banned from all broadcasting for the period of the entire election campaign. Overall, the HCC is designed to operate as an intermediary to encourage free access to the media, but it has no real enforcement power.

Censorship

As observed above, considerable censorship exists in Chad—both self-censorship practiced by editors, journalists, and broadcasters, and active censorship by the government, anxious to preserve its position and to not risk losing control again of the country in a coup or riot situation.

In 2001 Michael Didama, the acting editor of the privately owned newspaper, Le Temps, appeared to be hit especially hard by government censorship and repression of the media. Apparently having alleged in 2000 the involvement of the president's own nephew and other relatives of the president in various coup attempts, Didama was arrested and given a six-month suspended sentence early in 2001 for having allegedly committed the crime of defamation. Harrassment of employees at Le Temps also reportedly occurred, with members of the government armed forces entering the newspaper offices after an article appeared that reported the number of deaths suffered in the north of Chad in the ongoing armed rebellion.

Other journalists and members of the media likewise suffered from government mistreatment, abuse, jail sentences, and fines in 2001, particularly around the elections. Even the state-owned media were not immune from attacks by the government, which exercised censorship both officially and unofficially. The official media also tended to report much more about the government, especially in a favorable light, than about the political opposition.

State-Press Relations

Particularly during the presidential and parliamentary elections of 2001, relations between the government and the press were strained. When FM Liberté, a privately owned radio station, objected to the government ruling on press limitations during the 2001 election campaign, the station was threatened in May 2001 with closure by the HCC if it continued to broadcast programs on the campaign. A compromise agreement ultimately was reached, with the station permitted to cover the campaign except for its program entitled, "Le club de la presse."

Attitude toward Foreign Media

During the election campaign in 2001, two election observers from the Ivory Coast and Roger-François Hubert, a reporter working for an Ivoiran daily, Le Belier, were expelled from Chad after government officials accused them of not having proper legal clearance.

News Agencies

The government operates one news agency in the country.

Broadcast Media

Only one television broadcasting service exists in Chad, government-owned Teletschad. Regarding radio, the government-owned Radiodiffusion Nationale Tchadienne, based in the capital, broadcasts nationally. As already noted, FM Liberté is a private station owned by a group of human rights organizations. La Voix du Paysan is the Catholic Church-owned radio station.

Private satellite TV channels and cable channels, while permitted by the government, reach only a small percentage of Chad's population due to low income levels and the high costs of owning a television set and accessing special broadcasting services. One new private television station was registered in Chad in 2001. A privately owned cable television station distributes foreign broadcasting to audiences in Chad, with programming in French and in Arabic, but few can afford the cost of the cable service. A South African cable company also operates a television station in the country via subscription.

Electronic News Media

Just one Internet access service provider exists in Chad, and it is owned by the government telecommunications monopoly. Although the government does not restrict public access to the Internet, the relatively affordable prices offered by the government Internet monopoly and the decent quality of service function as effective deterrents to the establishment of other competitive, privately run, Internet services within the country.

Education & TRAINING

During the presidential and parliamentary election campaign season in May 2001, the state media ridiculed the independent press, claiming journalists in the private media were poorly trained and unprofessional.

Summary

Because Chad has undergone so many decades of internal conflict that have not yet been resolved and do not yet appear to be coming to a close anytime soon, it is unlikely that the country will develop a free and independent media in the near future. Continued government repression is expected to limit the capacity of journalists and broadcasters to freely publish and transmit a wide range of viewpoints. However, with the impending development of the oil industry through the Chad-Cameroon Oil Pipeline project, the World Bank is likely to send international monitors to observe the development of the industry, the use of oil profits, and the involvement of Chadian government officials in the development process. This may bode well for the future of free expression and freedom of the press in the country, since it will be harder for the government both to unduly influence or to repress private parties, be they oil companies or the private press, or to mishandle oil profits if the country and its leaders are being watched more closely by responsible observers from the outside.

Nonetheless, it is difficult to imagine the free development of the oil industry without excessive government intervention, considering the scenario of Nigeria and other African states where lucrative natural resources have been discovered and developed. This is especially the case in the context of the ongoing civil violence in the north of Chad. Certainly, foreign investment is unlikely to be attracted to Chad or to thrive if the country is rampant with continuous violent ethnic and religious conflict, nor are investors likely to ignore the problems of civil unrest without attempting to instill a measure of control themselves on the situation, as has so sadly and disastrously happened in many of the oil-rich regions of Nigeria. For the benefit of human rights and the future of the Chadian people, it is imperative that journalists and the media, whether state-owned or private, be given the means to flourish as freely as possible, in order to act as watchdogs on the future development of their country and to ensure that neither government leaders nor multinationals nor the international community interfere with their own welfare in ways that go unchallenged.

Significant Dates

April 2001: The HCC, a regulatory commission established by the government, rules that political debates during the election campaign will be banned and no commentary on news bulletins will be permitted, and radio stations that fail to comply will be temporarily shut down.

Bibliography

Amnesty International. "Chad." Amnesty International Report 2002. London: Amnesty International, May 28, 2002. Available at http://web.amnesty.org/web/ar2002.nsf/afr/chad!Open .

BBC Monitoring. "Country profile: Chad." Reading, UK: British Broadcasting Corporation, June 29, 2002. Available at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/country_profiles/1068700.stm .

Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, U.S. Department of State. "Chad." Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2001. Washington, DC: Bureau of Public Affairs, U.S. Department of State, March 4, 2002. Available at http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2001/af/8307.htm .

Committee to Protect Journalists. "Chad." Attacks on the Press in 2001: Africa 2001. New York, NY: CPJ, 2002. Available at http://www.cpj.org/attacks01/africa01/chad.html .

Friends of the Earth. "Chad-Cameroon Oil Pipeline." Accessed 6 August 2002 at http://www.foe.org/international/worldbank/chadcameroon.html .

Reporters without Borders. "Chad." Africa annual report 2002. Paris, France: Reporters sans frontiers, April 20, 2002. Available at http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=1727 .

Barbara A. Lakeberg-Dridi , Ph.D.



Also read article about Chad from Wikipedia

User Contributions:

Pradeep Sapkota
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May 20, 2009 @ 12:00 am
Sir, i would like to know about satellite tv channel network that can be view from Chad. Actually we (me and my battalion) would be there very soon. So, i would like to provide the tv channel to be viewed inside our battalion. What is the procurement process to buy the tv channels in Chad? If any statistics fig you have is heartly welcomed.
Pradeep Sapkota

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