In June 2019, a new political party emerged in the Republic of Chad and immediately voiced claims to the supreme authority in the state. Les Transformateur (“The Party of Changes or Transformers”) loudly declared itself, staging an unauthorized protest in Chad’s capital N’Djamena. The world community found out the “Party of Change” leadership as it is actively engaged in its promotion on the Internet. The latter in itself raises certain questions.
Internet penetration rate, i.e. the share of the population with access to the World Wide Web in the Republic of Chad is only 9%. In comparison, during the “Twitter revolution” in Egypt, just as in the current Sudan gripped by protests, the figure was about 30%. Moreover, according to 2016 data, only 22.3% of Chad’s inhabitants were literate. That is, the vast majority of Chadian citizens are not able to familiarize themselves with the party website or Les Transformateur social media accounts. Who, then, has been targeted by such proactiveness?
One way or another, local politicians should be involved in creating the party’s Internet infrastructure. Those well aware of the futility of this kind of effort when it comes to spreading the party influence within the country. It leads to the obvious conclusion that the party’s positioning system on the Internet is designed primarily for foreign audiences. More precisely – for residents of Western countries. Having the party’s Internet resources most likely pursues several goals at once. They can act as the primary source of “right” news for news agencies in Europe and the United States. The latter would allow protest sponsors and beneficiaries to reformat the public perception of developed countries in the way needed. Furthermore, the Internet resources are used as a platform for collecting financial assistance from “sympathizers”, including representatives of emigrant communities in France and other Western countries. Otherwise, the creation of its own Internet resources by the Party of Change seems to be a completely irrational step.
Reasonable doubt against the Les Transformateur’s independence makes one wonder: what consequences will the Chadian people have with the party’s attempts to seize political power in the country?
This question is far from being idle. Chad can hardly be called prosperous in socio-economic terms. According to 2011 data, 46.7% of Chad’s population was below the poverty line. In 2014, the situation worsened. World oil prices fell sharply, while the republican budget was 75% full due to the export of “black gold”. According to some estimates, 80% of citizens currently live below the poverty line. Less than 4% of the republic’s land is suitable for growing crops and only about 36% can be used as pasture. Regular droughts, locust invasions, soil salinization and desertification are the realities of the Chad’s economy, the country remaining mainly agrarian.
Chad ranks third in the world in terms of maternal mortality. According to October 2017, over 395,000 refugees from Sudan and the Central African Republic lived in Chad.
The Christian population in the south is at odds with the Muslims of the north. Armed clashes between tribes over pastures and access to water are continuously reported. Chad’s active participation in peacekeeping operations in Mali, the Central African Republic and Nigeria has turned the country into a target for attacks by various extremist groups. The authorities do not fully control the territory of the state. N’Djamena residents still remember how the rebels nearly seized the capital of Chad in 2006 and 2008, and gunshots were echoed even on the premises of the presidential palace.
It is safe to say that Chad is now fairly close to the socio-economic and political collapse. The attempt to organize a “color revolution” in the country will allow it to happen in the nearest time possible.
The likelihood of Western interference in Chad’s policies cannot be underestimated. The Republic plays a vital role in the system of international relations in Africa. Chad is one of the unspoken leaders in the French-speaking countries community of the “black continent.” Chad’s active role in peacekeeping operations has turned it into a significant player in a number of international conflicts. The role of Chad is also reinforced by its influence on the neighboring Sudan and Libya. Finally, Chad is an important area of the economic confrontation between China and the United States in Africa.
In 2017, around 21,000 tons of oil per day was produced in the republic. Both US Exxon Mobil Corp. and China National Petroleum Corporation were actively involved in the process. At the same time, a little earlier, the positions of the American company in the Chad’s oil industry dealt a serious blow. In the fall of 2016, Exxon Mobil was ordered to pay a fine of $ 74 billion, as well as $ 819 million in royalties, which US oilmen owe to the African state. This fact alone, not to mention the expanding influence of China, would be enough for Washington to interfere in the internal affairs of Chad.
For this reason, the circumstances of the emergence of the new party and its first steps in the political arena have naturally come under scrutiny for experts of the National Values Protection Fund. The outcome of the relevant research can be seen below.
Party of Change (Les Transformateur, «Transformers»)
Party Internet resources:
History of the party creation:
April 2018 — the political movement Les Transformateur was created. The new republic in Chad (3rd Republic, as opposed to the 4th Republic of Idriss Déby) serves as the movement’s ideal. The movement’s principles are “solidarity”, “exactingness”, “justice”;
1 June 2019 — the political movement was reformatted into a party. The Party of Change (Les Transformateur) was registered on May 14, 2019, and its patrons include the US Embassy in Chad.
Thus, John Peter Pham, US special envoy to the Great Lakes Region of Africa was among the guests at a press conference on the opening and launch of the party’s activities. It was his presence that prevented the police from interrupting the upcoming congress of party supporters. The leader of the Party of Change is Succes Masra, a young and vibrant opposition figure. After a series of high-profile statements, he tried to hold an unauthorized procession of his supporters in the center of N’Djamena. However, the police dispersed the crowd of about 500 people using tear gas.
7 June 2019 — The U.S. Embassy in Chad issued a statement calling for the Chadian government to respect citizens’ right to hold peaceful assembly and rallies;
10 June 2019 — The U.S. Embassy in Chad called on authorities in N’Djamena to cease restrictions on public demonstrations.
It is important to note that John Peter Pham used to be an employee for the International Republican Institute (the organization recognized as undesirable in Russia). The diplomat also led the African Council Center of the Atlantic Council – the think tank jointly controlled by representatives of the Republican and Democratic parties. Pham is known as one of the developers of the Trump administration foreign policy doctrine in regards to Africa.
Apparently, the provocation with the procession of the Party of Change supporters and their further crackdown were the reason for the campaign to criticize and put pressure on the Idris Debi regime by Western and opposition media (with the involvement of NPOs, embassies, etc.).
At the moment, the Chadian authorities are trying to strip the party of its official status and impede its activities.
Liberalism (reliance on democratic values – separation of powers, freedom of speech, secular state, etc.)
The party conducts thoughtful work with various social strata. There are female and youth departments within its structure.
Party rhetoric is built on the extreme forms of populism. When it comes to social media posts and public speeches, the party leader uses vivid and figurative expressions, contrasting the good and justice, and in fact – himself against the supporters of the current government and personally Idriss Déby.
The party headquarters and a cafe openly operate in the Chad’s capital. Its representatives are active in the media. It appears to be especially strange against the country’s ban on the social media use and a low level of Internet penetration. The party’s network resources host a significant amount of video content and appeals on behalf of younger party supporters.
The attention is drawn to the entrepreneurs’s issues and the Chadian diaspora abroad. It is noteworthy that members of the Chadian diaspora, often living in Western countries, are active on the organization’s media resources.
Personal Internet resources:
Paris School of Economics at the Sorbonne (2012-2015);
University of Oxford, business-school (2015-2016);
Harvard Kennedy School of Government (2018-2019)
Succès Masra, potential presidential candidate in Chad and founder of the political movement «Les Transformateur».
Succès Masra studied political science, finance and management at SciencePo, Paris and holds a Ph.D. in economics from the Paris School of Economics (Sorbonne). He is a graduate of management and leadership programs at Oxford University and Harvard Kennedy School of Public Administration.
In 2010–2018 he worked for the African Development Bank, went from a specialist to the chief financial economist. In 2016, Succès Masra was part of the African Bank’s Presidential Task Force on Renewable Energy Development and the implementation of the African Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI).
In 2016, he received the Desmond Tutu Fellowship, awarded by the African Leadership Institute. He was a guest lecturer at the Institute for Political Studies of Paris (SciencePo, Paris). He was the financial economist of the Moroccan OuarzazateSolar project, currently the largest CSP solar project in the world. Succès Masra is also a co-founder of Generation ABCD, a leadership and entrepreneurship platform to promote Nelson Mandela’s legacy.
In 2018, he resigned as chief economist at the African Development Bank to launch the Transformers movement in Chad and within the Chadian diaspora abroad.
Succès Masra is often invited to Chad’s television and radio. The French media giants (RFI, Jeune Afrique) are also clearly supporting him. The Chadian opposition is positively presented by the German media, including the Deutsche Welle. Let us refer to an excerpt from one of the agency’s pieces on a politician’s visit to Germany: “A 35-year-old Chadian politician who embodies the struggle to transfer power to a new generation continues his attack on the Chadian diaspora. After a visit to Germany, he shared with Deutsche Welle that the purpose of the visit was not only a meeting with compatriots, but also German political figures. He used to travel to the USA and France. ”
Nikolay Ponomarev, Leading Analyst, Foundation for the Protection of National Values