What Would It Take for Idriss Deby to Fall in Chad?

What Would It Take for Idriss Deby to Fall in Chad?
Burkina Faso’s president, Roch Marc Christian Kabore, left, Chad President Idriss Deby, center, and French President Emmanuel Macron, right, during the G5 Sahel summit in Nouakchott, Mauritania (AFP pool photo by Ludovic Marin via AP Images).

When Idriss Deby first became president of Chad in 1990, deposing the notoriously brutal Hissene Habre in an armed rebellion, few observers expected his rule to last very long. The landlocked Central African country is deeply fragmented, with myriad ethnic groups and clans vying for power against each other. But against all odds, Deby has remained in power for 30 years, thanks in large part to his political cunning, his prowess as a military tactician and his use of oil revenues to build patronage networks and coopt political opponents.

Under Deby, Chad has also taken on an important role in regional security initiatives, including the French counterinsurgency effort to stabilize the Sahel region that has been ongoing since 2014. Known as Operation Barkhane, it has its headquarters in Ndjamena, Chad’s capital. As a result, Deby has cultivated considerable loyalty from officials in Paris and, to a lesser extent, in Washington. Last year, the French military even prevented a coup against Deby by bombing a convoy of armed rebels that was headed toward Ndjamena.

Following a constitutional reform in 2018 that expanded his powers, Deby could stay in office until 2033. On the Trend Lines podcast this week, WPR’s Elliot Waldman was joined by Michael Shurkin, a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation, to discuss the longevity of Deby’s rule, his role in regional security and his enduring support from the West.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.