5 Things you Should Know About the Upcoming Chad Referendum

5 Things you Should Know About the Upcoming Chad Referendum


Chad, situated in the Sahel, is amidst a constitutional referendum and is governed by a military junta, historically a key ally of the West in the fight against jihadist groups.

The country played a pivotal role in the G5 Sahel, formed in 2014 to combat extremism. However, the group faces dissolution following the exit of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger.

Climate change has significantly impacted Lake Chad, causing a 90% reduction in its size due to water mismanagement, prolonged droughts, and climate effects. This crisis has deepened poverty for many locals, creating an environment where groups like Boko Haram and its offshoot, ISWAP, recruit members.

According to the World Bank, roughly 42.3% of Chad’s 18 million inhabitants live below the poverty line. Despite being an oil producer since 2003, Chad ranks as the second least developed country globally, after South Sudan, as per the UN.

Food insecurity is dire, affecting around 2.1 million people who struggle to secure one meal daily, warned the World Food Program. Chad also hosts over a million refugees from neighboring nations, including more than 900,000 Sudanese, based on UN figures.

The late President Idriss Déby Itno came into power with French backing, overthrowing Hissène Habré in 1990. Despite criticism for human rights abuses, Déby managed to repel rebel attacks in 2008 and 2019, aided by the French military. After his death in 2021, his son, General Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno, took office, extending the transition period to elections by an additional two years in October 2022.

While regional nations have witnessed coups since 2020, Chad still hosts French military operations in the Sahel, even as France’s influence wanes against growing Russian involvement.

Hissène Habré, who seized power in 1982 after a civil war, ruled through brutal repression until his ousting by Idriss Déby Itno. In 2017, Habré was sentenced to life imprisonment for crimes against humanity and passed away in August 2021.

Chad holds historical significance as the birthplace of “Toumaï,” a 7-million-year-old hominid skull, the oldest known human ancestor. Additionally, filmmaker Mahamat Saleh Haroun, renowned for films exploring Chadian society’s pain, received accolades at Venice and Cannes for his thought-provoking works.


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