Why Does Chad Get Preferential Treatment Over Other African Coup Plotters To The US Africa Leaders Summit?

Dr. Succès Masra*

General Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno

In August 2022, the Biden Administration’s announced its new African strategy, which aims to help Africa “Deliver on Democratic and Security Dividends.” The US-Africa Leaders’ Summit is taking place in Washington, DC, on December 13, under this new framework designed to revitalize ties with the continent. For the new Biden African strategy to succeed, the defense of human rights and the promotion of democratic values have to be at the centerpiece of the Biden administration’s foreign policy.

Africans are surprised to learn the Biden administration invited leaders to this Summit, who have been accused of crimes against humanity and known for committing grave human rights violations, particularly General Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, head of the military junta in Chad who massacred over 300 of his own citizens on October 20, 2022, while other coup plotters in Burkina Faso, Mali, Sudan, and Guinea have not been invited for these very same violations.

How can the United States help Africa “Deliver Democratic and Security Dividends” if it continues to provide military, financial assistance, and diplomatic prestige to the illegitimate and military junta in Chad and several most autocratic and rights-abusing regimes in Africa? Has the United States been influenced by the ambiguous position of France on this specific case of Chad?

Chad, where the Deby family dynasty has ruled for nearly 35 years, millions of American taxpayer dollars are transferred annually through foreign and military.  These weapons are used to kill Chadian citizens.  Deby Jr., the leader of the junta in power since April 2021, refuses to honor his commitment made to the African Union, the United Nations, the United States, and the European Union, to relinquish power to a civilian after 18 months of transition. Deby Jr. has extended clinging to power by two additional years of transition and positioned himself to run in the future elections or should we say “selections”.

Africa has changed. The African youth, which represents 70% of the African population is increasingly and legitimately requiring servant and accountable leadership. The United States, which, in recent years, has bet on young leaders through various programs, including the Washington Mandela Fellowship, better has its name associated with democrats for a win-win and long-term sustainable partnership. Africa is watching how the international community is reacting to Chad, where the 18 months of political transition ended on October 20 in repression and resulted in more than 2,000 arrests, over 300 deaths, over 200 missing people, and hundreds of others wounded. The Chadian junta has banned the activities of the main democratic opposition party The Transformers and Wakit Tama, the platform of the main coalition of civil society organizations. Democratic leaders including myself are forced to leave Chad or to live in hiding. This is a tragic situation, in addition, over 1,000 other Chadians were killed in community conflicts across the country since Deby Jr seized power.

Attempts for sincere and inclusive dialogue based on democratic principles have failed. Chadian democratic opposition leaders, including myself, have been advocating since the beginning of this transition for a Chad where security and development go hand in hand in a democratic system. I met with the junta leader eight times for talks without reaching a consensus. This is because the main objective of the Junta leader is to control the “Three Pillars of Power” and to organize election parodies to remain in power. No democracy can result from such an autocratic and brutal transition where the leader of the Junta appoints and control Members of the Government and the judiciary power.

Chad always ranks at the bottom of the global human development, competitiveness, and human capital index despite the young and productive population with enormous natural resources including oil, gold, livestock, and arable lands. Our struggle and political commitment are for the dignity of our people who deserve after 60 years of independence the right to their self-determination through democratic and fair elections to choose their leaders.

Dr Succès Masra

It’s strategically imperative that the United States’ foreign policy towards Africa changes and is smarter than that of other Western powers who unconditionally supported a clan-based army and provided diplomatic prestige to former President Deby Sr., who ruled Chad for 30 years.

Chad is at a crossroads and if strong resolutions and actions in support of democracy are not taken, the situation will deteriorate more and jeopardize efforts to restore peace and establish sustainable democratic governance. The Biden Administration should take this situation seriously and ensure direct talks between the main political and CSO actors for post-crisis agreements. Failing this transition in Chad could result in a more divided country like the situation in Sudan and South Sudan. It is worth noting that my party, Les Transformateurs referred this to the international criminal court in November 2022. The Junta is targeting specific Christian communities from the southern part of Chad through brutal and planned repressions.

Considering America’s commitment to democratic values, and the overall leadership of the United States in the world, we call upon the Biden administration, its allies, and the United Nations for practical decisions and actions that will stop the dynasty in Chad, enable the right for self-determination for the Chadian people, and influence the trend of Democracy in Central Africa and Sahel region. Martin Luther King’s wise words remind us that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere and if America wants to be true to itself, it should never let the darkness of the dynasty overcome the light of democracy and servant leadership.

*Dr. Succès Masra is the Leader of Les Transformateurs Political Party in Chad and a former economist at the African Development Bank


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One Comment

  1. Kikuyu said: “Of you don’t give food to the starving man, you’re indirectly killing him.” By implication, if the justice bragged by Americans,descendants of multiple people from different cultures, to whom our forefathers once laboured to make it America,does not serve humanity,it is not called justice.

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