Opinion: Power-Sharing Crucial to Lasting Peace in Chad | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 06.02.2008
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Opinion: Power-Sharing Crucial to Lasting Peace in Chad

The EU delayed its peacekeeping mission in Chad after rebels stormed the capital city N'Djamena. France and the EU should really rethink their Chad policy if a lasting solution is to be found, says DW's Thomas Mönsch.


Once again, Europe's -- and especially France's -- policy on Africa is coming back to haunt them. What happened in Chad isn't a surprise and will happen again and again as long as the country's government is just a vehicle to push through the interests of individual groups or international powers.

France has never really released Chad into independence and the European Union has let Paris do what it wanted in the impoverished heart of Africa without worrying much about democratic values or even human rights.

Serving French interests

As long as it serves French interests, President Idriss Deby will stay in power. For the majority of Chadians, however, not even an armed coup would change anything. The conflict is limited to the same elite that has ruled and plundered the country for decades.

The best example for France's cynic politics is Deby himself. He came to power in 1990, the same way his former allies and current enemies wanted to. Then, in an unspoken agreement with France, Deby put on a pseudo-democratic mask.

Any last doubts about his true intentions were dispelled three years ago when he changed the constitution in order to run once more in the elections, which were manipulated yet again.

Located at the heart of Africa, Chad is indispensable as France's last large military base on the continent.

In addition, the bitterly poor country has climbed the ranks of the oil producers in the last few years. Despite all the warnings, Deby managed to present himself to the US and the European Union as a leader who can guarantee smooth oil deals. He has totally diluted the agreements with the World Bank, which were supposed to ensure that the Chadian people also have a part in the oil profits.

Europe should take a new path

Deby has also benefited from the crisis in the Sudanese province of Darfur, where he is partially responsible for the escalation of the situation. Now Chad is needed to take care of the countless refugees from neighboring Darfur.

The imminent stationing of EU troops on the Sudanese border would have further stabilized Deby's power. For that reason, it shouldn't come as a surprise that rebels most likely supported by Sudan want a decision right now.

It is certainly right that the African Union and the UN Security Council have made it clear that a violent coup is unacceptable. But Paris and Brussels have to realize finally that honest compromises and power-sharing with all the important groups in Chad can lead to long-term stabilization.

Otherwise the people there will continue to stand by as spectators as armed groups repeatedly try to fight their way into the government.

Thomas Mösch is the head of Deutsche Welle's Haussa language service. (kjb)

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