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Cablegate: An Eer for Chad

VZCZCXYZ0001
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHNJ #0406/01 2611627
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 181627Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY NDJAMENA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7244
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE PRIORITY

UNCLAS NDJAMENA 000406

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

STATE FOR AF/C AND S/USSES
NSC FOR GAVIN
LONDON FOR POL - LORD
PARIS FOR POL - BAIN AND KANEDA
ADDIS ABABA ALSO FOR AU

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PREF PHUM SU LY QA FR PKO MARR
ECON, EFIN, CD
SUBJECT: AN EER FOR CHAD

REF: A. 08 NDJAMENA 165
B. 08 NDJAMENA 200
C. NDJAMENA 306
D. NDJAMENA 353
E. NDJAMENA 224
F. NDJAMENA 355

-------
OVERVIEW
--------

1. (SBU) We learned two days ago of President Deby's
decision to accept the invitation to lunch with POTUS and
other African heads of state during upcoming UNGA meetings.
This visit affords Embassy a good opportunity to lay out
Chad's record of progress since its nadir of contemporary
existence as a state in early 2008. The death, destruction,
and disruption caused by 2008 rebel attacks, which nearly
toppled the Chadian regime, left the country militarily,
politically, economically and diplomatically prostrate. In
the months following the attacks, Chad has recovered to a
noteworthy degree, due largely to the government's
willingness to follow the advice of its friends, including
the USG. At the behest of the international community, and
because it had few other promising alternatives, the Chadian
government has taken steps to end its diplomatic isolation
and promote national reconciliation, political reform,
socio-economic development, and strategic security.

2. (SBU) Chad's efforts have not been uniformly successful,
nor are any of Chad's diplomatic partners giving the Deby
regime "straight As" on its performance in the past 18
months. But there has been significant progress in key
areas, and the GOC under Deby's key collaborators -- PM
Youssouf Saleh Abbas and FORMIN Moussa Faki Mahamat, among
others -- has proceeded in ways that the USG has proposed
and recommended.

3. (SBU) The USG should seek to promote continued GOC
progress along the paths traveled since February 2008.
Increasing USG leverage in Chad will reinforce commitment to
positive steps already taken. Our continued involvement with
the GOC is essential to achieving strategic U.S. goals in the
region, starting with resolution of the Darfur crisis and
return of Sudanese refugees to their homes.

-----------------------
NATIONAL RECONCILIATION
-----------------------

4. (SBU) Chad's current government is headed by Prime
Minister Youssouf Saleh Abbas, who hails from the eastern
town of Abeche. Abbas's selection by President Deby in April
2008 marked a departure from the traditional choice of a
southern Chadian for this slot, and likely represented the
President's desire to reach out to Chadians in regions that
are host to Sudanese refugees and rebel movements (Ref A).
In part in response to international, including USG,
pressure, the Abbas cabinet was "opened" to the political
opposition, with four senior opposition leaders named to
significant ministries -- Defense, Justice, Agriculture, and
Urban Planning (Ref B).

5. (SBU) In the 19 months since the rebel attacks,
"intra-Chadian diplomacy" and national reconciliation has had
a revival. Abderamane Moussa, the National Mediator and
close advisor of President Deby, has been helping to woo
rebels and exiles home. Hundreds of rebels have returned to
Chad, with rebel leader Ahmat Hassaballah Soubiane (Ref C)
the most prominent. Former President Goukouni Oueddei has
also returned to support the GOC in its "reconciliation with
rebels" (Ref D).

---------------
GOOD GOVERNANCE
---------------

6. (SBU) The President has given the Prime Minister wider
latitude than his predecessors to run the government,
although Deby continues to oversee the "Presidential"
portfolios of foreign affairs and defense. PM Abbas, a
former opposition figure long closely associated with former
President Goukouni Oueddei and rebel leader Youssouf Togoimi,
came to power with a program calling for "national
reconciliation," political reform, and improved governance,
including anti-corruption and anti-impunity for wrong-doers,
as well as better relations with IFIs. Abbas has had
considerable success in some areas and less in others.
Still, the PM's authority is limited (and those of his ally,
the Finance Minister, bounded) by Infrastructure Minister
Younousmi's Presidentially-approved prerogative on public
spending and lack of enthusiasm on Younousmi's part for
better relations with IFIs.

7. (SBU) The GOC responded to opposition party and
international pressure by participating in an ad hoc
Commission of Inquiry that investigated the events
surrounding the rebel near-takeover of the capital last year.
The GOC continues to pursue legal investigations pursuant to
the findings of the Commission into abuses committed at that
time (although no facts have come to light about the
disappearance of prominent opposition leader Ibni Oumar).

8. (SBU) The GOC, again with considerable pressure from
donors and the international community, has re-launched the
moribund political reform process agreed to on August 13,
2007 by members of the Government, the ruling party
coalition, and opposition. An Electoral Reform Committee
created to implement the August 13 process has been able to
formulate draft laws and other measures aimed at facilitating
credible legislative and communal (local) elections in 2010,
and credible presidential polling in 2011. The National
Assembly has passed, and the GOC adopted, a new electoral
code and laws providing for necessary censuses (mapping,
demographic, and "electoral") and for an Independent National
Electoral Commission (CENI). The CENI was formed and began
work in July 2009.

------------------------
NATIONAL DEFENSE
AND EVERYDAY ENVIRONMENT
------------------------

9. (SBU) Following the 2008 rebel attacks on N'Djamena, the
government invested heavily in national security and military
equipment. The government decisively defeated subsequent
rebel attempts to advance, most recently in May 2009. Still,
security and law enforcement are some of the more troubled
sectors in Chadian society, particularly with respect to
their understanding of human rights standards. State control
is weak down the chain of command and away from the capital.
Soldiers sometimes act with impunity and have been implicated
in a number of human rights cases. The GOC has begun to
tackle one aspect of the problem, child soldiers, by
launching awareness campaigns and reviewing troops to try to
identify under-aged fighters. It has also handed hundreds of
child soldiers captured from rebel ranks to the international
community (Ref E).

10. (SBU) The GOC has invested time and effort in
reinforcing internal security, including at the local and
community levels. It has carried out major national
campaigns to seize illegal weapons and to determine who of
many uniformed individuals are actually members of the
national army.

11. (SBU) In the environmental realm, Abbas has undertaken
a comprehensive effort to address increasing desertification
in Chad, especially around N'Djamena. The GOC has banned
charcoal as cooking fuel, in part to end the practice of
felling live trees, and started a tree-planting campaign.

12. (SBU) While print and electronic media outlets continue
to grow in number, the majority of Chadians, especially
outside the capital, receive news from the radio, as well as
from community, tribal and religious leaders. Ordinance
Five, which limited press freedoms after the February 2008
attacks, is still on the books, but "independent media"
delight in skewering government and other well-known figures,
and anti-corruption is the most favored journalistic theme.

------------------------------
RESPONSIBLE REVENUE MANAGEMENT
AND DEVELOPMENT
------------------------------

13. (SBU) In the past 18 months, the GOC has made progress
in normalizing relationships with international financial
institutions. The government has restored its links with the
World Bank, met requirements for a preliminary program with
the IMF, and is seeking to reestablish ties with the European
Investment Bank. In an effort to clean up government
payrolls, in mid-2009 the Ministry of Finance started
bancarizating government employees' salaries.

14. (SBU) The GOC won IMF backing in April 2009 for a
six-month IMF Staff-Monitored Program, as a result of an
agreement to revise the 2009 national budget to account for
decreased revenue in the wake of reduced world oil prices.
The budget revision was a serious first step by the
government to improve management of public finances. With
IMF endorsement, the EU has offered Chad significant
financial support and technical assistance in this area. The
IMF's first SMP review is under way as of this writing; GOC
officials have admitted that they have missed some
mid-program targets, but we await the IMF's formal assessment
before declaring Chad's progress to be inadequate.

15. (SBU) As part of its budget revision process, the GOC
is specifically aiming to improve management of
infrastructure spending. Lack of predictable electricity
availability and rising costs of living pose problems, but
the GOC is endeavoring to use oil revenue for development
around the country, including to build roads, schools, and
health clinics.

---------
DIPLOMACY
---------

16. (SBU) The government continues to exercise diplomatic
skill in carrying out responsibilities under the accords it
has signed, including with respect to fair treatment for
returning rebels from Sudan and normalizing relations with
Sudan itself. The GOC remains committed to fulfilling its
obligations under the Dakar Accord (aimed at normalizing
Chad-Sudan relations) and has been waiting since last year
for Khartoum to take a turn housing the Contact Group. (Chad
hosted in November 2008.) The Dakar Accord calls for
international monitoring of the Chad-Sudan border, a concept
the that GOC has pursued with SE Gration, with Libyan
interlocutors, and with MINURCAT officials, among others.

17. (SBU) The GOC demurred at joining new mediation efforts
following the May 2008 rebels attacks, instead emphasizing
its commitment to the Sirte Accord process, which lays out
terms for return of Chadian rebels to their homeland.
President Deby and other senior GOC officials have publicly
welcomed returning rebels and made clear the government's
desire to integrate returnees into la vie tchadienne. Rebels
feel so welcome that they often return with outrageous
demands for ministerial or flag-rank military positions,
which they sometimes obtain as Chad attempts to demonstrate
that it will not discriminate against them (Ref F).

18. (SBU) The GOC views itself as a necessary element in
the Darfur peace equation, and has attempted to exert a
positive influence on international peace initiatives.
President Deby has hosted SE Gration during both of the
latter's visits to Chad, and has made personal efforts to
rein in the JEM's Khalil Ibrahim.

-----------------------
HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE
AND PEACEKEEPING
-----------------------

19. (SBU) This is quite a bright spot for the GOC, which
has performed well in cooperating with massive international
humanitarian efforts in eastern and southern Chad, especially
the former, where 300,000 Darfur refugees and 200,000 Chadian
IDPs receive assistance worth $250 million per year.
Overall, we and our PRM colleagues would give the GOC a 6.5
or 7.0 on a scale of one to ten in these areas. The GOC is
generally responsive to international norms regarding
refugees. No egregious errors regarding responsibilities as
a host nation have occurred. We think that lack of capacity
rather than lack of political will, and unintentional
negligence rather than malfeasance, explain why Chad does not
deserve better marks in this area. The GOC has continued to
make major efforts to deal constructively with two separate
UNSC-authorized PKOs, the temporary EUFOR until mid-2008, and
its UN partner and successor, the longer-lasting MINURCAT
since then. The government remains welcoming to all UN
agencies as well as to the UN peace-keeping operation, and to
the range of international NGOs that operate here. Indeed,
Chadian leaders and citizens view the UN and other
international players as important partners not only in terms
of managing Darfur refugees but also on the democratization
and development fronts.

---------------------
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT
---------------------

20. (SBU) Chad's deficiencies are well known to
international statisticians. The nation ranks second to last
on the Economist Intelligence Unit's Democracy Index. It
ranks ninth from last on the UNDP's development index of 179
countries. It ranks second to last among African states on
the Ibrahim Index of African Governance. It ranks seventh
from last on Transparency International's Corruption
Perception Index. It is the world's fourth-most failed state
on the Fund for Peace Index. Against this backdrop, Chad's
generosity to refugee populations and good relations with the
international community based here to assist with the Darfur
crisis deserve recognition and thanks. That President Deby's
authoritarian tendencies may be moderating slightly is one
possible interpretation that could be brought to bear to
explain the government's restraint in pursuing retribution
against rebel who engaged in attacks in May of this year. We
would like to think that the GOC will honor its commitments
to greater political opening and to including opposition
voices in public debate in the months ahead.

21. (U) Minimize considered.
BREMNER

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