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Chadian Civil War (2005–10)

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War in Chad
Civil war in Chad.png
Major flashpoints of the conflict
Date December 18 2005 — ongoing
Location Chad
Status Ongoing
United Front for Democratic Change (FUC) (2005-2006)
United Forces for Development and Democracy (UFDD)
Gathering of Forces for Change (RFC)
National Accord of Chad (CNT)
Allegedly supported by:
Allegedly supported by:
Commanders and leaders
Mohammed Nouri
Timane Erdimi
Abdelwahid Aboud Mackaye
Mohammed Nour
Idriss Déby
UFDD 3,000-6,000
RFC 500-1,000
UFDD-F 500
CNT 1,000
~23,000 est.

The current civil war in Chad began in December 2005. The conflict involved Chadian government forces and several Chadian rebel groups. These include the United Front for Democratic Change, United Forces for Development and Democracy, Gathering of Forces for Change and the National Accord of Chad. The conflict has also involved the Janjaweed, while Sudan allegedly supported the rebels, while Libya mediated the conflict, as well as diplomats from other countries.

The Government of Chad estimated in January 2006 that 614 Chadian citizens had been killed in cross-border raids. On February 8, 2006 the Tripoli Agreement was signed, which stopped the fighting for approximately two months.

However, fighting persisted after that, leading to several new agreement attempts. In 2007, a rift between the main Zaghawa and Tama tribes of Chad emerged. The Zaghawa tribe, to which Chad's President Idriss Déby belongs, accuses the Sudanese government of supporting members of the rival Tama tribe.

The civil war had deep connections to the War in Darfur and the Central African Republic Bush War.


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In 2005, Chadian President Idriss Déby changed the constitution so that he could run for a third term in office, which sparked mass desertions from the army. The large-scale desertions from the army in 2004 and 2005, which forced Deby to disband his presidential guard and form a new elite military force, weakened the president's position and encouraged the growth of armed opposition groups. The Rally for Democracy and Liberation (RDL) was formed in August 2005, and the Platform for Unity, Democracy and Change (SCUD), two months later, to overthrow the current government, accusing it of being corrupt and totalitarian. Later that year, the RDL and SCUD joined six other groups to form the United Front for Democracy and Change (FUCD).

The situation was made worse by the alleged accumulation of oil wealth by Déby and his entourage.


Precipitating events

Map of Chad

Since 2004, Janjaweed militants involved in the Darfur conflict have been attacking villages and towns in eastern Chad, stealing cattle, murdering citizens, and burning houses. Over 200,000 refugees from the Darfur region of northwestern Sudan currently claim asylum in eastern Chad. Refugees from the Central African Republic are also entering southern Chad under UN supervision. Chadian President Idriss Déby accuses Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir of trying to "destabilize our country, to drive our people into misery, to create disorder and export the war from Darfur to Chad."

The RDL rebel group was formed in August 2005, and SCUD, two months later, to overthrow the current government of Chad, which the allied rebel groups say is corrupt and totalitarian. Now there are over 4,000 rebels in the border region between Chad and Sudan. On December 28 the Sudanese Minister for Foreign Affairs al-Samani Wasiylah stated, "This is nonsense — he is just trying to draw attention away from the internal problems he is having. This is a mutiny in the army, everyone knows that, and we don't want to be involved in that."

Chad has denied reports that its air force conducted reconnaissance missions over Sudanese airspace.

Battle of Adré

An attack on Chadian troops in the town of Adré, near the Sudanese border, by RDL and SCUD militants, on December 18, 2005, led to the deaths of between 100 and 300 rebels, five soldiers, and three civilians. The attack was the second in the region in three days. Sudanese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Jamal Mohammed Ibrahim denied that Sudan encouraged the rebels.

Chadian Communications Minister Hourmadji Moussa Doumgor announced that Chad holds the Sudanese government responsible for the attacks, since they occurred from within Sudan's borders.

On December 26 Chadian Foreign Affairs Minister Ahmad Allam-Mi told foreign ambassadors in the capital N'Djamena, "The attacks were repulsed by the Chadian army which, using its right to pursuit, destroyed a few rebel bases implanted in Sudanese territory."

Border town raids in January 2006

Border towns of Chad

On January 6, 2006, Janjaweed militants crossed the border from Sudan into Chad and attacked the cities of Borota, Ade, and Moudaina. Nine civilians were killed and three were seriously injured.

The Chadian government stated, "The Sudanese militias attacked the settlements of Borota, Ade, Moudaina… yesterday killing nine and injuring three among the civilian population… The Chadian government once again warns the Sudanese government against any hasty action because aggression by Sudanese militias will not go unpunished for much longer."

Tripoli Agreement

On February 8, 2006, Chadian President Idriss Déby, Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, and Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi signed the Tripoli Agreement, effectively ending the conflict.

The agreement was reached after a mini-summit in Tripoli, Libya, hosted by al-Qaddafi. Then Chairperson of the African Union and President of Congo Denis Sassou-Nguesso, Central African Republic President François Bozizé, and African Union Chairperson of the Commission Alpha Oumar Konaré also attended the summit.

UFDC rebels regard the treaty as "a piece of paper with signatures on it. It means nothing."

Nour's original demands, for Déby to relinquish power, a two year interim period, and fair and free national elections, have been modified. Nour now wants a national forum, before the end of June, for opposition parties and organizations to discuss how the country should move forward politically.

The African ministerial committee, made up of the foreign ministers of Chad, Sudan, Libya, Central African Republic, Congo Brazzaville, and Burkina Faso and the chairman of the executive council of the Community of the Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD), met in Tripoli on March 6 and Libyan Foreign Minister Abderrahman Chalgham described the results. African Union (AU) Commissioner for peace and security Said Djinnit delivered his report on the conflict and the committee agreed to set up surveillance groups on the Chadian-Sudanese border. The other groups proposed in the Tripoli Agreement are expected to be implemented after the committee’s next meeting, sometime before the end of March. The committee identified 10 positions along the border for surveillance, five on each side of the border, and the states expected to form the control groups and the mechanisms for their operation.

Chalgam said the meeting was "constructive, sincere and detailed," and said the results were "practical."

Continuing rebel activity

Nour said, "A delegation will arrive tomorrow in Libya to present our demands to [Libyan leader] al-Qaddafi. We will have a transitional period, the length of which the forum will decide, and then we will have free and transparent democratic elections. I guess after a week or more we will know what Déby's reaction to this proposal is. If he refuses, then we will attack using force to remove him… No one wants a war, but if that's the only way, we will go to Chad."

Smaller rebel groups and members of the Chadian army continue to pledge allegiance to the UFDC. Another rebel group joined the UFDC on February 13, and Nour says the UFDC is "eight times stronger" than it was when it attacked the city of Adré on December 18.

Colonel Bishara Moussa Farid acted as a peacekeeper in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, later helping both Déby and his predecessor Hissène Habré seize control of the Government of Chad. He recently defected, and said the UFDC is "much better off than the previous resistances. We didn't have equipment and heavy weapons as we do now."

On February 20 two high level generals, Sedi Aguid and Issaka Diar, without authorization from the Government of Chad. President Déby said it was "up to Sudan to explain what the officers are doing in their territory." Mohammed Nour said the generals are "in one of our camps on the border".

Events in 2006

On March 6 the Tripoli Accord was violated when the Janjaweed crossed the Sudanese border and attacked the Chadian town of Amdjereme. Chad accused them of stealing hundreds and in some cases thousands of farm animals from the Chadian citizens. The Chadian military chased the Janjaweed back across the border and returned the livestock.

On April 13 2006 several hundred militiamen attacked the capital of Chad. The attack was repulsed by the regular army and many militiamen were arrested.

President Déby blamed the attack on the government of neighboring Sudan, claiming that many of the rebels were either Sudanese backed by their government or residents of Chad conscripted by the Sudanese. The battle occurred just months after the Chadian-Sudanese conflict had ended with the signing of the Tripoli Agreement. Déby broke off relations with the government of Sudan as a result, expelling its diplomats and threatened to stop sheltering thousands of Sudanese refugees from the Darfur region.

A massacre took place on April 13, 2006 in the eastern Chadian village of Djawara. Approximately 100 civilians were shot or hacked to death by Sudanese Janjaweed militia and local Chadian rebels.

Human Rights Watch has reported that between April 12 and 13, Janjaweed also killed a total of 43 people in three other villages in the vicinity -- Gimeze, Singatao, and Korkosanyo.

Presidential elections were held on May 3, 2006. Opposition parties boycotted the poll, which Deby won.

In November 2006 the government imposed a state of emergency in the capital and north, east and southern regions. International aid agencies evacuated non-essential staff from the eastern town of Abeche, following an escalation of rebel activity.

In December, heavy fighting broke out between the army and rebels in the east. FUC rebel leader Mahamat Nour Abdelkerim, signed a peace deal with President Deby.


On February 2007, a coalition of four rebel groups claimed to have taken the eastern border town of Adre. Chad rejected a plan to have U.N. troops along its eastern border. Victims from this attack were documented in the film Google Darfur.

In March Former rebel Mahamat Nour Abdelkerim became defence minister.

Government said Sudanese Janjaweed militia attacked and destroyed two villages in east Chad.

October 2007 flareup

Leaders of the four main rebel groups agreed in early October to enter into peace negotiations with the government. However, during the same month, violence erupted in eastern Chad, with Arab horsemen raiding and torching villages whose inhabitants are mostly of black African descent, killing around 300 people.

Also, violence between the Tama and the Zaghawa communities broke out after an armed group of Tama fighters, who had served under Defence Minister Mahamat Nour, abandoned the eastern town of Guereda and moved close to the Sudanese border.

The clashes followed separate fighting in the same region, putting Government troops against a newly-merged alliance of rebels that briefly seized two towns in October. On October 16, Chad's government declared a state of emergency covering much of the country. These regions include Ouaddai, Wadi Fira and Salamat. As a precaution, the state of emergency was extended to most other parts of the north-central African nation, including the capital and the mountainous Borkou, Ennedi and Tibesti region bordering on Libya.

The violence between the Tama and the Zaghawa communities broke out after an armed group of Tama fighters, who had served under Defence Minister Mahamat Nour, abandoned the eastern town of Guereda and moved close to the Sudanese border. On October 19, soldiers and fighters of the United Front for Democratic Change clashed in Goz Beida town.

October 26, 2007 — peace agreement

On 26 October 2007, a peace agreement was signed between the government of Chad and four rebel groups: the Movement for Resistance and Change, the National Accord of Chad and two factions of the United Forces for Development and Democracy.

November 2007 flareup

In late November 2007, the rebel leader Mahamat Nouri accused Idriss Deby of ordering an attack on his fighters in the east of Chad. The army said on public radio there were "several hundred dead" and "several injured" among the Union of Forces for Democracy and Development (UFDD) fighters. Abakar Tollimi, secretary-general of the UFDD, disputed the army toll, saying only 17 rebels were killed. "We have killed more than 100 from among the army ranks," he said after the clashes.

On November 30, 2007, the UFDD declared a "state of war" against French and foreign military forces in an apparent warning to EUFOR Chad/CAR‎, comprising European Union 3,700 peacekeeping troops, who should deploy in eastern Chad on a U.N. mission to protect camps housing more than 400,000 Chadian and Sudanese refugees.

January-February 2008

On January 31, 2008 rebels said they seized a strategically important town in the central region of Batha, about 400km (248 miles) from the capital, N'Djamena. A spokesman for several rebel groups who have joined forces said Oum Hadjer had been captured on January 30. Army patrols were subsequently increased in N'Djamena in case the rebels try to move on the capital. "We are moving towards N'Djamena," rebel spokesman Abderaman Koulamallah confirmed to AFP.

On February 2, Chadian rebels reportedly entered the capital N'Djamena and were heading for the presidential palace. Thousands of rebels have entered Chad's capital N'Djamena and say they have surrounded the presidential palace.

According to BBC, Chad's ambassador to Ethiopia has said that the capital has not fallen and that President Idriss Deby is "fine" in his palace.

There was intense gunfire in the city centre, and a witness said army tanks were burning in the streets.

The French Foreign Ministry condemned the attempt to "seize power by force", blaming "armed forces from outside".

After the rebel withdrawal from N'Djamena, the rebels stated they had seized the towns of Mongo and Bitkine and were waiting for the army to follow them from the capital so that they could battle them outside the city. They stated on 10 February 2008 that they had also captured Am Timan. On 11 February 2008, they reportedly withdrew from Mongo to the southeastern border.

A state of emergency was declared on 15 February 2008 to fight the rebels, while the rebel groups stated they were discussing how to agree upon a single leader before attacking again.

Alleged Sudanese support for Chadian rebels

Members of the Chadian government repeatedly accused Sudan of supporting the United Front for Democratic Change rebel alliance financially, territorially, and by providing weapons. On December 30, the Chadian government broadened their accusation, alleging that rebels had been given airtime on Sudanese State television and that after the second attack on Adré, Sudanese citizens were among the rebels taken prisoner.

Chadian Deputy Foreign Minister Lucienne Dillah told the Chadian parliament in Ndjamena, which then voted to back President Idriss Déby's anti-rebel activities, "It seems clear that Sudan is arming, financing and equipping Chadian rebels on its territory to destabilise Chad. The presence of Sudanese among the attackers taken prisoner (after the December 18 attack on Adré) is a blatant example. Khartoum warmly welcomed the desertion of some elements of the Chadian army and the defection of some senior officials in December."

Dillah went on to say that Chadian rebel leaders "made several appearances on Sudanese television before satellite channel Al-Jazeera showed the Chadian rebel base on Sudanese soil on December 11."

Dillah showed the Parliament several photographs of Mohammed Nour posing next to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. After Dillah's speech the Parliament called on Khartoum not to jeopardize "the historic links" between Sudan and Chad.

Déby also alleges that the Sudanese-sponsored Janjaweed militia killed 55 shepherds in Madioun village before Chad's army killed 17 of "the horse-men who were wearing the military uniform". Three Chadian soldiers were killed.

The African Union will set up a commission of enquiry to investigate Chad's evidence.

Peter Takirambudde, the Africa director of Human Rights Watch said in a statement in February 2006, "You may have thought the terrible situation in Darfur couldn't get worse, but it has. Sudan's policy of arming militias and letting them loose is spilling over the border, and civilians have no protection from their attacks, in Darfur or in Chad."

Alleged foreign support for Sudanese rebels

U.N. experts working in Darfur reported on January 9 that rebels were getting "financial, political and other material support from neighbouring countries including Libya, Chad and Eritrea". On January 12 Chadian Information Minister Doumgor said, "This lying information attributed to a supposed report by United Nations experts has no other aim than to justify the Sudanese aggression which Chad is a victim of."

On January 20, 2006, representatives from the Justice and Equality Movement and the Sudan Liberation Movement met in the Chadian capital N'Djamena, and decided to combine the two groups into the Alliance of Revolutionary Forces of West Sudan, the largest rebel alliance in the Sudanese region of Darfur.

ARFWS issued a press statement in French and Arabic stating that "The two movements have agreed to join and coordinate all political, military and social forces, their international relations and to double their combat capacity in a collective body under the name, the Alliance of Revolutionary Forces of West Sudan. This union will strengthen the solidarity, cohesion and unity of the people of Sudan in general and that of the west in particular. It will further strengthen the position of the armed movements in (peace) negotiations" currently under way in Abuja in Nigeria."

JEM president and doctor Ibrahim Khalil told reporters, "We have set up this union in the interests of the people of Darfur. To lose time without uniting our efforts means extending the days of the (Khartoum) regime which has become a factor in the disintegration of the regime."

The press statement was also signed by SLM leader Mina Arko Minawi.

ARFWS and the Government of Chad are united in opposition to Sudan heading the African Union at the upcoming summit on January 23.

Internally displaced persons

Refugees from the Central African Republic have fled north into Chad to try to escape a civil war and attacks from bandits known as coupeurs de route, rebels, and government troops who have allegedly recklessly killed civilians as part of a wider operation, throughout the Chadian-Sudanese conflict. On February 17 2,800 refugees crossed the border after fifty villagers were killed in attacks in the previous week. 4,300 refugees came from C.A.R. this year and 45,000 C.A.R. refugees seek political asylum. See also: People's Army for the Restoration of the Republic and Democracy

U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees spokesperson Ron Redmond said, "Some refugees told the UNHCR that they had been attacked by bandits, while others say they were victims of violent attacks by armed rebels and-or the army. The new influx is creating an enormous strain on the already limited financial resources available for our operation in southern Chad."

Refugees typically go to the Chadian village of Békoninga, where they are registered, and are then taken to Gondjé refugee camp.

On average 200 refugees cross the border per day. 4,000 refugees have fled to southern Chad in February as of February 21. UNHCR spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis told journalists in Geneva during a briefing, "Many refugees report they fled attacks by government forces on civilians who CAR troops suspected of supporting various rebel groups. Refugees also mention raids by rebel groups who attack their villages to loot food and cattle, as well as forcibly recruit young men. Some refugees have told UNHCR they have been victims of all three groups – rebels, government soldiers and bandits."

UNHCR representative in Chad Ana Liria-Franch said, "The situation in CAR needs to be addressed urgently by the international community, before it is too late. Abuses against civilians do not appear to be confined to any one side – rebel groups, bandits and government forces are all mentioned by the refugees. It is credible that they are indeed terrifying these helpless populations."

On February 22, UNHCR will move 300 refugees from Békoninga to Gondjé refugee camp.

300,000 Sudanese refugees from Darfur have fled west into eastern Chad, 3,600 in Gaga refugee camp, and 100 to 125 refugees arrive everyday, but harassment from rebel groups is so harsh that some Chadian civilians have begun to flee east into western Sudan. Most of these civilians are women and children.

UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond said in a press briefing in Geneva, "So now we've got refugees going in both directions in this increasingly volatile region."

UN refugee agency spokeswoman Jennifer Pagonis told journalists at the regular Tuesday press briefing in Geneva, "In addition to the more than 200,000 Sudanese refugees from Darfur who have sought refuge in eastern Chad in the past three years, we're now seeing indications that some Chadians are themselves fleeing in the opposite direction, to Darfur. Initial assessments by UNHCR and its partners indicate the spontaneous sites have grown over the past two months following a bloody attack on the Chadian border town of Adré last December. Any Chadians among this group are of concern to UNHCR and would be considered asylum seekers pending determination of their status. But there are also many Sudanese nationals among the group, who have possibly been drawn to the settlements in the hope of receiving international assistance."

UNHCR legal officer in West Darfur said, "Some of the Chadians we interviewed told us that they fled directly to the Galu area, where some have relatives. Others wandered in border areas for some time before getting word of the spontaneous sites and then walking to Galu and Azaza."

Women and children make up 75 percent of the camp population.

In New York Secretary-General Kofi Annan discussed the Darfur conflict with non-governmental organizations. A read-out of the meeting released by a spokesman for Mr. Annan said, "The Secretary-General expressed his concern about continuing insecurity and the increasing number of direct threats to relief workers. The Secretary-General thanked the NGOs for their courageous work in assisting those affected by the conflict and, as strategic allies, in working together to protect civilians and provide vitally needed humanitarian assistance." UNHCR is working with the Chadian Government, the World Food Programme, and other organizations at Gaga camp.

"You may have thought the terrible situation in Darfur couldn't get worse, but it has," Peter Takirambudde, Africa director of Human Rights Watch, said last month in a statement. "Sudan's policy of arming militias and letting them loose is spilling over the border, and civilians have no protection from their attacks, in Darfur or in Chad."

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