The Party System and Conditions of Candidacy
Conditions for establishing and managing political parties
The multiparty system was suspended in Chad from 1963 to 1990. It was restored following the demise of Hissène Habré’s rule and Idriss Déby’s rise to power. The law 019/PR/2009, known as the Political Parties Charter, states in Article 4 that political parties shall be freely established and shall conduct their activities in compliance with the prevailing rules and regulations. These requirements include: respect of national sovereignty, the integrity of the national territory, national unity and democratic pluralism. Article 4 of the Charter in fact mirrors Article 4 of the Constitution which guarantees legally established political organizations the freedom to conduct their activities. A citizen or a group of citizens can freely take the initiative to establish a political party. However, the creation of a party needs to be formalized by convening a meeting of founding members.
The freedom to create parties led to a proliferation of political parties following the restoration of the multiparty system, on December 1, 1990. This led to the adoption of several regulations aimed at preventing the creation of frivolous parties. The creation of political parties was rigorously structured until 1992 when an ordinance liberalized the process and it became common to see parties without popular support or platforms, created by a single founding member who wished to receive benefits from the state.
It is prohibited to create a party on religious, ethnic, or regional bases. The Political Parties Charter mandates that founding members come from at least half of the regions of the country, with a minimum of three founding members per region.
While the creation of political parties is free and subject to only the principles of the Republic and democracy, electoral competition, on the other hand, is strictly regulated.
An inventory of political parties in Chad
There are currently 143 political parties in Chad. It is very difficult to differentiate between parties due to the large number which arose from the liberalization of party formation. The large number of parties led to a number of alliances or coalitions of political parties with different outcomes.
In the ruling presidential coalition, the main political force remains the Mouvement Patriotique du Salut (MPS) which has dominated Chad’s political life since 1990. It has 134 Members at the National Assembly. It has about 100 additional parties related to it, the most significant of which are, Rassemblement pour la Démocratie et le Progrès (RDP), created by the former President, Lol Mahamat Choua ( President for two months before Goukouni Wedeye’s rise to power), this party has 8 Members at the National Assembly; Rassemblement des Nationalistes et Démocrates Tchadiens (RNDT-Le Réveil), created by Pahimi Padacke Albert, which has 8 Members at the National Assembly; Rassemblement National pour la Démocratie et le Progrès (Viva RNDP) created by the former Prime Minister Nouredine Delwa Kassire Coumakoye which has 4 Members at the National Assembly.
It should be noted that since its last congress, the MPS has to become more internally focused, distancing itself from its allies. Delegates of the Congress recommended that the MPS assume its role before the Chadian people and rid itself from allies that hinder its visibility rather than bringing true support. As a result, in the last cabinet reshuffle many allies lost their positions and were replaced by senior members of the ruling party. It is also noted that the Baminists (a name referring to the area in Sudan where the party was created) has reassumed control over the party. The term Baminist, which has become trendy recently, designates the original founding members of the MPS. They are now all members of the highest bodies of the party, especially its leading organ, the National Political Committee.
There are a few parties in the opposition. First of all, the Union Nationale pour le Développement et le Renouveau (UNDR) which has 10 seats at the National Assembly. It leader, Saleh Kebzabo is the Head of the country’s democratic opposition on the basis of the provisions of the law defining the status of the opposition and which confers this title to the opposition party with the largest number of members at the National Assembly. This is also the reason why he is the main target of the ruling party. His party is one of the best organized and has suffered very little from the dissidence of senior party members, unlike many other opposition parties.
Second is the Union pour le Renouveau et la Démocratie (URD) which has 8 members at the National Assembly. This party was created and led by one of the icons of Chad’s political life, General Wadal Abdelkader Kamougue. It is the only party that succeeded in bringing President Déby to a runoff in the 1996 presidential elections, Since Kamougue’s death in 2011, the party has been undermined by infighting amongst the leadership. One of the sons of the late president Kamougue was entrusted with the party’s leadership during its last congress.
There is also the Fédération Action pour la République/Parti Fédéraliste (FAR/PF) led by Yorongar Ngarlejy Lemoiban which has 4 Members at the National Assembly. He is certainly the most virulent of all political opponents. In 2001, his party, which calls for federalism, captured the hope of many voters before losing momentum due to the defection of many senior members, and a lack of organization.
Next to these parties, there are others such as the Parti pour les Libertés et le Développement which was led by Ibni Oumar. An opposition leader who disappeared following the events of January 28 to February 3, 2008; the circumstances of his disappearance remain unknown, despite the investigations of a committee created to elucidate the matter; he was a consensus figure in the opposition and was the its spokesperson. There is also the Union des Forces Démocratiques/Parti Républicain led by Gali Gata Gote. Each of these two parties has one Member at the National Assembly.
It should be noted that several political parties founded and led by young people made remarkable breakthroughs in the last legislative elections, held in 2011. This is the case of the Parti pour la Démocratie et le Socialisme en Afrique (PDSA) which won two seats at the National Assembly; The Mouvement des Patriotes Tchadiens pour la République (MPTR) and Souffle Nouveau pour la République (SONOR) each of which won one seat at the National Assembly. These young parties continue to make their presence known as they seek to make young people weigh in on the political debate.
Useful links and documentary resources
- The Charter of political parties (Loi no 45 PR du 14 décembre portant charte des partis politiques (1994). https://sites.clas.ufl.edu/sahelresearch/files/Doc-1_Loi-no-45-PR-du-14-decembre-portant-charte-des-partis-politiques-1994.pdf
- EISA (Tchad), « Options politiques et axes programmatiques des partis politiques tchadiens » : http://www.eisa.org.za/PDF/cha2012parties.pdf
- République du Tchad (2007). Accord politique en vue du renforcement du processus démocratique au Tchad. https://sites.clas.ufl.edu/sahelresearch/files/Doc-2_République-du-Tchad-_Accord-politique-en-vue-du-renforcement-du-processus-démocratique.pdf
- Chad: 2011 National Assembly election results: http://www.eisa.org.za/WEP/cha2011results.htm
- Official websites of the most representative political parties:
- Rassemblement pour la Démocratie et le Progrès (RDP): http://rdptchad.blogspot.com/