Hissène Habré bigraphy, stories - Chadian president

Hissène Habré : biography

13 September 1942 -

Hissène Habré (حسين حبري; born 13 September 1942), also spelled Hissen Habré, was the leader of Chad from 1982 until he was deposed in 1990.

Early life

Habré was born in 1942 in Faya-Largeau, northern Chad, then a colony of France. He was born into a family of shepherds. He is a member of the Anakaza branch of the Daza ethnic group, which is itself a branch of the Toubou ethnic group.Sam C. Nolutshungu, Limits of Anarchy: Intervention and State Formation in Chad (1996), page 110. After primary schooling, he obtained a post in the French colonial administration, where he impressed his superiors and gained a scholarship to study in France, at the Institute of Overseas Higher Studies in Paris. He completed a university degree in political science in Paris, and returned to Chad in 1971. He also obtained several other degrees and earned his Doctorate from the Institute. After a further brief period of government service as a deputy prefect, he visited Tripoli and joined the National Liberation Front of Chad (FROLINAT) where he became a commander in the Second Liberation Army of FROLINAT along with Goukouni Oueddei. After Abba Siddick assumed the leadership of FROLINAT, the Second Liberation Army, first under Oueddei's command and then under Habré's, split from FROLINAT and became the Command Council of the Armed Forces of the North (CCFAN). In 1976 Oueddei and Habré quarreled and Habré split his newly named Armed Forces of the North (Forces Armées du Nord or FAN) from Goukouni's followers who adopted the name of People's Armed Forces (Forces Armées Populaires or FAP). Both FAP and FAN operated in the extreme north of Chad, drawing their fighters from the Toubou nomadic people.

Habré first came to international attention when a group under his command attacked the town of Bardaï in Tibesti, on 21 April 1974, and took three Europeans hostage, with the intention of ransoming them for money and arms. The captives were a German physician, Dr. Christoph Staewen (whose wife Elfriede was killed in the attack), and two French citizens, Françoise Claustre, an archeologist, and Marc Combe, a development worker. Staewen was released on 11 June 1974 after significant payments by West German officials. Combe escaped in 1975, but despite the intervention of the French Government, Claustre (whose husband was a senior French government official) was not released until 1 February 1977. Habré split with Oueddei, partly over this hostage-taking incident (which became known as the "Claustre affair" in France).

Rise to power

On 29 August 1978, Habré was given the post of prime minister of Chad, replacing Félix Malloum in that position; Malloum had been both prime minister and president since 1975. Habré's term as prime minister ended, however, a year later, when Malloum's government ended. Elections brought Goukouni Oueddei to the presidency.

Habré deposed Oueddei in a coup on 7 June 1982, and the FAN leader became president; the post of prime minister was abolished. There followed a period of turmoil.

War with Libya

Libya invaded Chad on July 1980 in an attempt to drive out Habré, occupying and annexing the Aozou Strip. The United States and France responded by aiding Chad in an attempt to contain Libya's regional ambitions under Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi.

Civil war deepened. On 15 December 1980, Libya occupied all of northern Chad, but Habré defeated Libyan troops and drove them out in November 1981. In 1983, Libyan troops occupied all of the country north of Koro Toro. The United States used a clandestine base in Chad to train captured Libyan soldiers whom it was organizing into an anti-Gaddafi force.

Habré's aid from the USA and France helped him to win the war against Gaddafi's Libya. The Libyan occupation of the north of Koro Toro ended when Habré defeated him in 1987. By that time, the war was beginning to end, and had ended by 1988.

Despite this victory, Habré's government was weak, and strongly opposed by members of the Zaghawa ethnic group. A rebel offensive in November 1990, which was led by Idriss Déby, a Zaghawa former army commander who had participated in a plot against Habré in 1989 and subsequently fled to Sudan, defeated Habré's forces. The French chose not to assist Habré on this occasion, allowing him to be ousted; it is possible that they actively aided Déby. Explanation and speculation regarding the reasons for France's abandonment of Habré include the adoption of a policy of non-interference in intra-Chadian conflicts, dissatisfaction with Habré's unwillingness to move towards multiparty democracy, and favoritism by Habré towards American rather than French companies with regard to oil development. Habré fled to Cameroon, and the rebels entered N'Djamena on 2 December 1990; Habré subsequently went into exile in Senegal.Bernard Lanne, "Chad: Regime Change, Increased Insecurity, and Blockage of Further Reforms", Political Reform in Francophone Africa (1997), ed. Clark and Gardinier, page 274 (see also note 26).

Living octopus

Living octopus

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