Monday, February 18, 2008

Continuing our tour of the politics of those lesser-known countries in the world, we come to Chad. Chad is one of the lesser-known countries in central Africa, long playing second fiddle to the regionally eponymous Central African Republic. It briefly came to fame in the fall of 2000, and again in 2002 after joining the Axis of Countries Whose Names End in "Guay". As we all know, Chad gained independence in 1960 at a time when flags were scarce, necessitating use of the Romanian flag. Things moved along quietly albeit unspectacularly until the world came calling in 2000 during the Hanging Chad Crisis, during which thousands of dissidents and political opponents were hung to death. Despite its top-5 ranking in the Failed States Index, Chad gets relatively little attention in the news, probably because Shaquille O'Neal was recently traded to Phoenix, where he is expected to bolster the Western Conference-leading Suns.

At any rate, Chad was already one of the poorest, least-developed countries in the world when a civil war broke out in 2005 between the government of dictator Idriss Deby and a number of rebel groups whose names are permutations of abstract concepts like United, Republican, Democratic, and Front. As is often the case in Africa, the war has become regional owing to Sudanese support for rebel groups. Casualty numbers are hard to come by because, well, someone would probably have to send someone in there to talk to someone, and Sudan is as far as the world's attention goes. The conflict recently flared up after rebel groups marched on the capital N'Djamena but were turned back by the government. Indicative of the sort of free-for-all that is Chad, the rebels did surround the presidential palace before retreating towards Sudan, where they mill about with impunity.

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