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Chad The FROLINAT Rebellion, 1965-79
Sources: The Library of Congress Country Studies; CIA World Factbook
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    The prolonged civil warfare in Chad had its origins in a spontaneous peasant uprising in Guéra Prefecture in 1965 against new taxes imposed by President Tombalbaye. The rebellion represented a rekindling of traditional animosities between the Muslim northern and central regions and the predominantly non-Muslim people of the south who had dominated the government and civil service since independence. After unrest broke out in other areas, the various dissident groups were merged into the National Liberation Front of Chad (Front de Libération Nationale du Tchad--FROLINAT) at a meeting in Sudan in 1966, although FROLINAT leaders at first had little contact with the fighting men in the field. From its starting point in Guéra, the rebellion spread to other east-central prefectures. The struggle broke out in the north in early 1968, when the always-restive and warlike Toubou nomads destroyed the army garrison at Aozou.

    The government asked the French to intervene when rebel activity threatened some of the administrative posts in the east and north. A French expeditionary force succeeded in recapturing most of the FROLINAT-held regions, but, after the withdrawal of the French in 1971, FROLINAT was again able to operate relatively freely. Internal divisions, however, prevented FROLINAT from capitalizing immediately on the weaknesses of the Tombalbaye regime. Early on, the movement's ideologue, Abba Siddick, lost control to more militant factions. Goukouni broke with the First Liberation Army, which Siddick commanded, and formed the Second Liberation Army, later known as FAN. As of 1973, northern Borkou and Tibesti subprefectures were occupied by the Second Liberation Army, leaving the First Liberation Army in control in Ennedi (see Subprefecture, 1975-87, Appendix B).

    In the meantime, Goukouni had been joined by the young and dynamic Habré, who had been named commander in chief of the Command Council of the Armed Forces of the North (Conseil de Commandement des Forces Armées du Nord--CCFAN). Habré, however, was ousted in 1976, when he objected to Goukouni's willingness to cooperate with Libya to further the struggle against the central government. The two leaders also differed over Habré's kidnapping of French citizens and holding them for ransom as a means of raising funds.

    Most of FROLINAT's First Liberation Army was reunified under Goukouni's overall command as FAP during 1977. (Habré reclaimed the name FAN for his followers.) Equipped with freshly supplied Libyan weapons, FAP carried on a broad offensive against government troops until a cease-fire was laboriously negotiated in March 1978. The truce was soon broken by Goukouni, whose troops soundly defeated the government army and threatened N'Djamena. French forces were again airlifted into the country and were decisive in routing FAP in a series of sharp engagements during the spring of 1978. During the course of the fighting, much of the new equipment FAP had received from Libya was abandoned.

    In spite of the French rescue effort, the Malloum government was weakened both politically and militarily by the defeats administered to FAT, the national army. To shore up his position, Malloum offered Habré the post of prime minister in a government of national unity under the former's presidency. The new government, however, failed to function because it was paralyzed by factional differences. Clashes between FAT and Habré's FAN were frequent in the capital. General fighting broke out between the two forces in February 1979. The poorly led, less aggressive FAT troops were soon driven out of N'Djamena by FAN. When the fighting ended, the looting and summary executions that followed precipitated a mass exodus of southern civilians. Mutual reprisals followed. Massacres of Muslims in southern towns were countered by executions of southern officials in eastern areas controlled by FAN.

    French troops present in the N'Djamena area did not intervene; French neutrality in effect favored Habré, although the French attitude toward him was divided. Goukouni's FAP, meanwhile, had descended from the north to fight alongside FAN. By March 1979, the struggle had resulted in a de facto partition of Chad: the Muslim armies of FROLINAT controlled the capital, together with the northern and central prefectures, and Malloum controlled the five southernmost prefectures.

    Data as of December 1988

    NOTE: The information regarding Chad on this page is re-published from The Library of Congress Country Studies and the CIA World Factbook. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Chad The FROLINAT Rebellion, 1965-79 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Chad The FROLINAT Rebellion, 1965-79 should be addressed to the Library of Congress and the CIA.

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