Chad (MNN) — Tensions in Chad remain at a breaking point because of financial and political crises that have built up over the years.
Major Causes of Tension and Protests
“The country has been deeply affected by the price of oil and because of that, the government has not been paying wages to all the workers like teachers and other people,” says Christian Aid Mission’s David Bogosian. “So, the unions in the country have gotten together and they decided to go on strike and this is a nationwide strike that’s affected the entire country.”
Teachers, students, truck drivers, and other unionists protested the public financial cuts and increase of income tax on Monday, January 29, bringing the country to a halt. Altogether, 112 students were arrested for the protest.
The Chadian government has put bans on demonstrations since.
However, a protest set for last Tuesday, February 6, went ahead anyway. Ten political parties supported the protest. The following day, the government suspended the parties for the next two months and closed their offices for “disturbing public order” and “inciting violence”.
This and the cut in wages has added to the building anger at President Idriss Déby.
“He came into power in 1990, and he’s had a very tight grip over the country, but he’s getting old,” Bogosian says. “He’s sixty-five years plus, and this could be his last term. And so, we’re kind of looking at this, wondering what’s going to happen. Anything could happen. If he were to step down or if he were to be removed from power, it’s unclear what would happen.”
Despite the protests and the possibility of President Déby stepping down, Bogosian says it’s doubtful a revolution will happen, but he’s still wary.
“The government is pretty strong. They have a good control over the military and other security forces so it’s unlikely that a revolution will happen, but you never know. This is Africa and revolutions do happen. But right now, we’re not seeing any kind of fissures taking place in the military or in the security forces that would lead to a revolution.”
It’s clear the government has also been trying to settle the anger of protestors. After the rise in the demonstrations, Chad’s finance minister said the country will not be making any additional cuts on civil workers’ pay this year, and lowest-income workers will be exempt from the spike of income tax.
Other Contributing Factors
However, the disagreements on the wages and taxes are not the only contributing factors to the rising tensions.
Bogosian says Chad is surrounded by external threats from other countries.
“You have Boko Haram coming from Nigeria. You have problems coming from Sudan… You have Libya to the north, which is in chaos, you have unrest in the south, and east, and west – everywhere you look, you have problems. And the Chadian government has done a good job to protect its borders to kind of push those things up, but they’re always there, waiting to encroach. So, it’s a constant threat.”
Bogosian points out that religious strains are also adding to the tensions in Chad and have been for decades.
“You have tensions between Muslims and Christians, which has led to civil wars happening from time to time. You have the tension happening within Islam itself. The President – President Déby is from a minority Muslim tribe, Zaghawa tribe. And the majority people, the majority Muslim group in Chad are the Chadian Arabs. Well, technically they should be running the country, but they’re not.”
Bogosian notes the clashes between the Christians and Muslims are similar to conflicts previously seen in other countries, specifically Sudan.
Before the country split in two, the north and south also had civil wars. The Muslims in the north ruled over the Christians and Animist people in the south for decades, creating struggles. Finally, in July 2011, Sudan split after the southern population voted for independence from the northern population.
Bogosian says the split of Sudan has made it increasingly difficult to minister to those in the north.
“The Christians were cut off in the south, and then you had very unreached areas in the north that are very difficult to reach today because of that.”
Like Sudan, Chad is similarly divided. Christians are concentrated in the south and Muslims are concentrated in the north.
If Chad were to split, sharing the message of Christ with the unreached would become nearly impossible.
Get Involved with Christian Aid Mission
“So, let’s pray that God would keep the unity and the country and also that God would bring vision and revelation of himself to the leaders of Chad,” Bogosian says.
Christian Aid Mission equips indigenous ministries and missionaries in Chad so they are able to share the Gospel with the lost and give them encouragement through these conflict-filled times.
Pray for these workers to spread the peace of Jesus. Pray that the Lord will give guidance to the people and the government. Pray the country would remain unified and finally, please pray for the financial situations burdening workers.
You can also work with Christian Aid Mission by ‘adopting’ unreached people groups in Chad with your Church. “We’re equipping [people] with information and other things that they need, equip tools to learn how to pray for, and get involved in reaching unreached people groups in Chad.”
Header photo courtesy of OCHA via Wikimedia commons.