Relations with France

Chad Table of Contents

France was Chad's most important foreign donor and patron for the first three decades following independence in 1960. At the end of the 1980s, economic ties were still strong, and France provided development assistance in the form of loans and grants. It was no longer Chad's leading customer for agricultural exports, but it continued to provide substantial military support.

Chad remained a member of the African Financial Community (Communauté Financière Africaine--CFA), which linked the value of its currency, the CFA franc, to the French franc. French private and government investors owned a substantial portion of Chad's industrial and financial institutions, and the French treasury backed the Bank of Central African States (Banque des Etats de l'Afrique Centrale--BEAC), which served as the central bank for Chad and six other member nations. Chad's dependence on France declined slightly during Habré's tenure as president, in part because other foreign donors and investors returned as the war subsided and also because increased rainfall since 1985 improved food production. French official attitudes toward Chad had changed from the 1970s policies under the leadership of Giscard d'Estaing to those of the Mitterrand era of the 1980s. Economic, political, and strategic goals, which had emphasized maintaining French influence in Africa, exploiting Chad's natural resources, and bolstering francophone Africa's status as a bulwark against the spread of Soviet influence, had been replaced by nominally anticolonialist attitudes. The election in France of the Socialist government in 1981 had coincided with conditions of near-anarchy in Chad, leading France's Socialist Party to reaffirm its ideological stance against high-profile intervention in Africa. Hoping to avoid a confrontation with Libya, another important client state in the region, President Mitterrand limited French military involvement to a defense of the region surrounding N'Djamena in 1983 and 1984. Then, gradually increasing its commitment to reinforce Habré's presidency, France once again increased its military activity in Chad.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress