(formerly IRIN News) Journalism from the heart of crises

Fighting between president's and defence chief’s ethnic groups

[Chad] Chad President Idriss Deby.

Despite a recent alliance in the capital N'djamena between Chad's top political leaders from two rival ethic groups, violence is resurging between the groups in the east of Chad, in the Tama region around the town of Guereda.

“The recent clashes are important to the Chadian political landscape because they may shift the balance of power between [President Idriss] Deby and [Mahamat] Nour,” said an expert on Chadian politics who did not want to be named.

Nour, the former leader of a 13-member coalition of rebel groups, was appointed as Chadian Minister of Defence by President Deby in March 2007.

The latest violence between Nour’s ethnic group, the Tama, and President Deby’s ethnic group, the Zaghawa, took place on 22 August. An army spokesman said its forces intervened to restore calm to the area.

Eleven Tama and one Zaghawa were reportedly killed.

Many Zaghawa continue to perceive the Tama as rebel supporters, the Chad expert said, while the Tama tend to see the Zaghawa as a cabal. Zaghawa dominate Deby’s administration in N’djamena as well as in local administrations including in the Tama region.

The conflict in eastern Chad has been widely viewed as a problem between Arab and non-Arab ethnic groups, but the Tama and Zaghawa are both non-Arab. Tension between the two groups dates to the early 1990s, when as a result of drought the Zaghawa moved onto Tama land in the
Guereda region, effectively forcing the Tama out.

The Tama then fled to Darfur and took up arms against the Zaghawa and the Chadian government.


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