Chad - Politics and Government

Politics and Government

Main article: Politics of Chad See also: Foreign relations of Chad

Chad's constitution provides for a strong executive branch headed by a president who dominates the political system. The president has the power to appoint the prime minister and the cabinet, and exercises considerable influence over appointments of judges, generals, provincial officials and heads of Chad's para-statal firms. In cases of grave and immediate threat, the president, in consultation with the National Assembly, may declare a state of emergency. The president is directly elected by popular vote for a five-year term; in 2005 constitutional term limits were removed.

This removal allows a president to remain in power beyond the previous two-term limit. Most of Déby's key advisers are members of the Zaghawa ethnic group, although southern and opposition personalities are represented in government.

Chad is listed as a failed state by the Fund for Peace (FFP). In 2007 Chad had the seventh highest score on the failed state index. Since then the trend has been upwards each year. Chad had the second highest score (behind Somalia) on the Failed State Index of 2011.

Corruption is rife at all levels; Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index for 2005 named Chad the most corrupt country in the world, and it has fared only slightly better in the following years. In 2007, it scored 1.8 out of 10 (with 10 being the least corrupt). Only Tonga, Uzbekistan, Haiti, Iraq, Burma, and Somalia scored lower. Critics of President Déby have accused him of cronyism and tribalism.

Chad's legal system is based on French civil law and Chadian customary law where the latter does not interfere with public order or constitutional guarantees of equality. Despite the constitution's guarantee of judicial independence, the president names most key judicial officials. The legal system's highest jurisdictions, the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Council, have become fully operational since 2000. The Supreme Court is made up of a chief justice, named by the president, and 15 councillors, appointed for life by the president and the National Assembly. The Constitutional Court is headed by nine judges elected to nine-year terms. It has the power to review legislation, treaties and international agreements prior to their adoption.

The National Assembly makes legislation. The body consists of 155 members elected for four-year terms who meet three times per year. The Assembly holds regular sessions twice a year, starting in March and October, and can hold special sessions when called by the prime minister. Deputies elect a National Assembly president every two years. The president must sign or reject newly passed laws within 15 days. The National Assembly must approve the prime minister's plan of government and may force the prime minister to resign through a majority vote of no confidence. However, if the National Assembly rejects the executive branch's programme twice in one year, the president may disband the Assembly and call for new legislative elections. In practice, the president exercises considerable influence over the National Assembly through his party, the Patriotic Salvation Movement (MPS), which holds a large majority.

Until the legalisation of opposition parties in 1992, Déby's MPS was the sole legal party in Chad. Since, 78 registered political parties have become active. In 2005, opposition parties and human rights organisations supported the boycott of the constitutional referendum that allowed Déby to stand for re-election for a third term amid reports of widespread irregularities in voter registration and government censorship of independent media outlets during the campaign. Correspondents judged the 2006 presidential elections a mere formality, as the opposition deemed the polls a farce and boycotted.

Déby faces armed opposition from groups who are deeply divided by leadership clashes but united in their intention to overthrow him. These forces stormed the capital on April 13, 2006, but were ultimately repelled. Chad's greatest foreign influence is France, which maintains 1,000 troops in the country. Déby relies on the French to help repel the rebels, and France gives the Chadian army logistical and intelligence support for fear of a complete collapse of regional stability. Nevertheless, Franco-Chadian relations were soured by the granting of oil drilling rights to the American Exxon company in 1999.

Educators face considerable challenges due to the nation's dispersed population and a certain degree of reluctance on the part of parents to send their children to school. Although attendance is compulsory, only 68 per cent of boys attend primary school, and more than half of the population is illiterate. Higher education is provided at the University of N'Djamena. At 33 per cent, Chad has one of the lowest literacy rates of Sub-Saharan Africa.

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