Path: Table of Countries --> Chad
Kenneth Janda
Political Parties: A Cross-National Survey
New York: The Free Press, 1980: pp. 965-966
CHAD: The Party System in 1950-1956 and 1957-19621
(Text as published in 1980 citation above)

Party politics in Chad reflects the roughly equal division of its population into (1) the northern aid eastern Muslim people and (2) the Bantu-speaking southerners, who are predominantly animist with a small Christian minority. Before the enactment of the loi cadre in 1956, the Action Sociale Tchadienne (AST), founded by French civil servants, was heavily represented in the territorial assembly and the colonial administration. As Chad gained internal autonomy, however, the AST's strength dwindled rapidly. The AST, along with an opposition cartel, was banned when Chad became a single-party state in 1962. Notwithstanding AST's status in the colonial government, the major political party in Chad, since its inception in 1946 as a branch of the interterritorial Rassemblement Démocratique Africain, was the Parti Progressiste Tchadien (PPT).

In the 1957 elections for an enlarged and more powerful territorial assembly, the PPT displaced the AST as the dominant party in the government, and the AST had to share the role of opposition with other minor parties. In the elections of May 1959, the PPT of François Tombalbaye, with support mainly from the non-Muslim south, won 57 of 85 seats in the legislature, and Tombalbaye became prime minister. In February 1960, three of the four opposition parties, supported mainly by the Muslim north, formed the Parti National Africain (PNA) out of the remaining 28 seats. Full independence came for Chad in August 1960, but the PNA alliance could not maintain unity in opposition to the PPT. In March 1961, the PNA joined with the PPT to form a united front, the Union pour le Progrès du Tchad (UPT). In February 1962, Tombalbaye abolished all parties except the PPT and held new elections in March with a single national list. The new Assembly adopted a new constitution in April 1962, which provided for a presidential type of government.

Continuity and Change since 1962

Chad's party system has undergone significant changes since 1962. Neither of the two original parties remains, and one new party qualified for study.

Original Parties, Terminated

922 Social Action Party. The AST was dissolved in 1962 when all opposition parties were banned.

921 Progressive Party. The PPT was the beneficiary of Chad's transformation into a one-party state in 1962. François Tombalbaye, PPT leader and president of Chad, reorganized the party as the National Movement for Cultural and Social Revolution (MNRCS) in 1973, when Tombalbaye began a program of authenticity, which included the abandonment of Christian first names (e.g., François Tombalbaye became Ngarta Tombalbaye). The MNRCS was dissolved, however, when a military coup in 1975 overthrew Tombalbaye, who was killed in the process. The new president was General Felix Malloum.

New Party, Continuing

923 Front for the National Liberation of Chad. FROLINAT was formed in 1966 (some say as early as 1962; see Area Handbook for Chad, 1972, p. 125) as a rebel force seeking concessions for the Muslim north. Although divided into factions, FROLINAT engaged government and French forces in heavy fighting. Hissen Habré, a former leader of FROLINAT (but disavowed by other FROLINAT leaders), accepted Malloum's invitation in August 1978 to enter a government of national reconciliation in which Habre became prime minister.


By early 1979, open warfare broke out in the streets of N'Djamena, the capital, between forces of the president and the prime minister, which ended their government of national reconciliation. Hostilities also broke out in the south between the local Christian and animist population and the Muslim traders. In early May 1979, the warring factions ended their conflict with the creation of another government of national reconciliation which, to all intents and purposes announced the victory of FROLINAT over the Malloum regime. Chosen as head of state and government was Mohammed Shawa, the youthful leader of the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Chad, a small Nigeria-backed offshoot of FROLINAT. The most powerful man in the government, however, was Goukouni Weddeyeh, interior minister and a top FROLINAT leader. Habre became minister of defense in the new government. Malloum took no important part in the new regime.

1.Our study of party politics in Chad is based on a file of 474 pages from 20 documents, 12 of which are in French and 8 are in English. The bibliographic search and indexing of material for the file was done by Floyd Schwartz. Peter Grabosky used the file to code the Chadian parties on the variables in the ICPP conceptual framework. Victor T. Levine kindly reviewed this section and offered advice on our coding.