Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine


What Next In Chad?

Monsieur Hissen Habré is in a most unenviable position. Here he has been blaming the woes of his government and his country on the expansionist aims of Col. Muammar Gaddaffy of Libya.

M. Habré has spent the past two years trying to convince the world that if only Libyan troops would be withdrawn from his country, the Chad crisis would be over. Suddenly he hears that all the Libyan troops are going back home and rather than rejoice, panic seems to have set in in N'Djamena, and there is one very furious, humiliated and above all, very unhappy Habré.

As in all these matters, the story is, of course, not as straightforward as it sounds. The Libyan troops are going home but the French troops who have been bolstering up Habré are also leaving on the same day and at the same rate as the Libyans and that is the source of Habré's unhappiness.

As his foreign minister pointed out, the announcement about the troop withdrawals came as a surprise to the Habré government and the fact that his arch rival Goukhounni Weddeye was apparently kept intimately informed by his Libyan patrons could only irritate Habré the more.

It must be difficult for him to discount the feeling that he has been sold down the line, for, if the present arrangement is anything to go by, then the original story about how France came to send troops into Chad must be very suspect indeed.

If it was the legitimate government of Chad headed by Hissen Habré that invited and got French troops, then it is more than strange that the departure of the troops can be negotiated without the participation of Habré.

From the Habré point of view, this deal is most alarming for many reasons, the most pressing being their disbelief of the intentions of Col. Gaddaffy. The view from N'Djamena is that Col. Gaddaffy has no intention whatsoever of keeping out of Chad, and is only retreating according to plan. In this scenario, as soon as the French finish evacuating their own troops, Col. Gaddaffy will promptly send back his to help Goukhouni Weddeye march on N'Djamena.

From such a perspective, it is not surprising that M. Habré finds it impossible to applaud the realisation of the very thing he has been clamouring for all the time. There is not much that Habré can do now except to sit and hope, for he has no negotiating points left.

Many observers who have watched helplessly as the Chad crisis has dragged on are of the opinion that any kind of initiative is better than the hitherto suspended animation.

Such people argue that even if another round of fight- ing should erupt as a result of the departure of the. French and Libyan troops, the ultimate results will be to the good of the people. For, either Habré or Weddeye will emerge triumphant as this time round, they would have no choice but to fight to the end since there will be no outside help for both sides. Even the prospect of Habre and Weddeye both losing out in the end is a prospect that is welcomed by others in the hope that a fresh and more realistic face will emerge.

The emerging terms of the deal makes it look increasingly as though France was more anxious to get out of Chad than to solve the Chad problem.

This might come as something of a surprise for those who see the French role in her former colonies as active and dominant, but then the sand dunes of the Sahara desert are not exactly the same as the beaches lapped by the Atlantic ocean and, with economic difficulties at home, France might have found herself unable or unwilling to continue enduring her peacekeeping roles and more inclined to shout a plague on both your houses to Habre and Weddeye.

While Habré is in the embarrassing position of not being able to cheer the departure of the Libyan troops, his rumblings about wanting to reactivate his old ties with Algeria only go to show the extent to which he has become dependent on foreign help.

It is of no consolation to him that his rival in the north, Goukhounni Weddeye, is equally addicted to foreign help. Whether Col. Gaddaffy should be counted upon to keep his word this time and take his troops out and keep them out, only time will tell. But it is instructive to note that he has maintained consistently throughout the past two years that he has not got any troops in Chad at all.

Without missing a beat, he has negotiated a deal to withdraw troops that he has never had. It is no wonder that Habré is so unhappy; his position does not evoke any envy.

He knows more than anybody that Chad will erupt again quite soon.

Marriages of inconvenience

It looks like there are uninvited guests at every wedding involving a Ghanaian in London these days. Scotland Yard is alarmed at the number of "arranged" marriages with criminal connections that have been taking place in London, usually between Ghanaians and British, German or Dutch citizens.

Everywhere in Europe, Ghanaians seem to be resorting to every imaginable stratagem including criminal actions to avoid going back to their own country. And yet a few years ago, Ghanaians were among those most proud of their country. Today it is a very different story. There seems to be no pride left. Many observers have stated that most people are running away from 'extreme poverty'

Ghana is definitely not in the best of economic health, but some of the countries to which Ghanaians have been fleeing to are much poorer. There surely must be some- thing more than poverty that is making Ghanaians run.

talking drums 1984-09-24 Gambia's thriving tourist industry Ghanaian marriages