Freedom and Democracy Day is celebrated every year in Chad on December 1, to commemorate the overthrow of Hissèné Habré’s reign of torture by Idriss Déby in 1990. It also marks the day Déby rose to power when he became the President of Chad. Déby took power by leading a coup d’état against the tyrannical former President Hissèné Habré in December 1990. He also survived several rebellions and attempted coups against his own rule. The general population takes the day off when schools and businesses stay closed.
History of Freedom and Democracy Day in Chad
Habré rose to power as the fifth president of Chad in 1982 only to begin an eight-year-long regime characterized by oppression and severe abuse of power. A convicted war criminal, he regularly violated the rights of the citizens, spied on people through secret police services, and often tortured and killed his opponents.
It was in late 1989 that a revolt broke out against Habré’s tyrannical rule. By December 1 in 1990, he had been overthrown with the Chadian National Armed Forces (FANT) already having collapsed.
On December 3 in 1990, the forces of the Patriotic Salvation Movement (M.P.S.), a Libyan–backed rebel group under the leadership of General Déby entered Chad’s capital N’Djamena unopposed. M.P.S. troops had entered Chad by crossing the Sudanese border three weeks earlier.
Habré fled to Senegal with $11 million of public money after being deposed. He was put under house arrest in 2005 until his arrest by the Senegalese police in 2013. He was accused of war crimes and torture during his eight years as president of Chad, where rights groups say that around 40,000 people were killed under him. Human Rights Watch claims that 1,200 people were killed and 12,000 were tortured, while a domestic Chadian commission also claims that nearly 40,000 people were killed with more than 200,000 being subjected to torture.
In Chad, after three months of the provisional government, a charter was approved with Déby becoming president on February 28, 1991. He was re-elected every five years until the time of his death in 2021, totaling 30 years in power.
Freedom and Democracy Day in Chad timeline
Habré is given the posts of Prime Minister and Vice President of Chad as part of an alliance with General Félix Malloum.
Habré seizes power over the Chadian government and becomes president.
Habré is overthrown with Déby becoming the new leader of Chad.
Déby passes away while fighting rebels from the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT,) while Habré dies from COVID-19.
Freedom and Democracy Day in Chad FAQs
Is Chad a poor country?
Chad is ranked the seventh poorest country in the world according to The United Nations’ Human Development Index. Around 80% of the population lives below the poverty line.
What drives Chad’s economy?
Oil and agriculture drive its economy. Oil makes up the bulk of export earnings and government revenue. Gold, gum arabic, sesame, cattle, and cotton are its primary non-oil exports. Most people rely on subsistence farming and livestock rearing.
Why is Chad known as the Babel tower of the modern world?
Chad is culturally and linguistically diverse and so it is also known as the Babel tower of the modern world. It has over 200 ethnic groups and more than 100 languages are spoken in the country. Its national languages are Arabic and French, but the majority of the population speaks two or more indigenous languages.
How to Observe Freedom and Democracy Day in Chad
Visit Chad to see this beautiful nation and to learn about the struggles people went through to make Chad the country that it is today. Go sightseeing and enjoy tourist attractions such as the Zakouma National Park or the Musée National N'Djamena (National Museum).
Share information about the 1990 coup in Chad and how that lead to the current sociopolitical and economical situation of the country. Learn more about how the country’s history fits in with the geopolitical tensions today and spread awareness through social media.
Celebrate the unique Chadian culture
Immerse yourself in the rich and diverse culture Chad has to offer of which sports and music are an important part. Different ethnic groups follow separate rituals and customs.
5 Facts About Chad That Will Blow Your Mind
Grains are a staple
Most of the population eat dishes with grains, like millet, sorghum, and rice, at least once a day.
It’s named after Lake Chad
Chad is named after Lake Chad, the largest wetland in the country.
Camel racing is popular here
The Tibesti Mountains in Chad are home to the Toubou tribe who engage in camel racing, a favorite pastime of theirs.
The ‘kakaki’ is a revered instrument
This musical instrument signifies power and whoever masters its rhythm commands respect in society.
It has a huge desert
The Sahara Desert covers much of northern Chad and occupies around one-third of the country’s total area.
Why Freedom and Democracy Day in Chad is Important
It marks the deposition of a tyrant
Habré was a convicted war criminal who routinely ordered and actively participated in torture and rape. The day serves to celebrate his overthrow and exile.
Chad is still an unstable country
Déby experienced several coups and a lot of pushback during his presidency as many people were unhappy with him. There were protests in the country in 2021 which started with his nomination and victory as president for yet another term. These protests continued after he was killed in action by FACT fighters in April 2021
There is widespread corruption
Opponents of Déby had protested because of his undemocratic rule and dictatorship-style leadership. Human rights, corruption, poverty, and unemployment prevail in the country. After Déby’s death, his son Mahamat Déby became the president. He then dissolved the government and established the military-backed Transitional Military Council.
Freedom and Democracy Day in Chad dates