The Sahel area where Chad is located has been inhabited for
ages. Several tombs in the Tibesti Mountains have found
remains dating back to 4900 BCE.
Among the three traditional pilgrimage and slave routes,
the two pass through Chad. Before the colonial era, the
warriors in the north had made the people of the south
slaves. By the end of the 18th century, European
missionaries had inverted the Saras in the south; they
received education and joined the Europeans in the conflict
with the "Norwegians".
France invaded Chad in 1885 after the Berlin Conference, but
it was the Foreign Legion that completed the conquest in
1920, and the Islamic population was subjected to violent
The colonizers introduced cotton cultivation in 1930.
Each farmer received a strip of land and was forced to
produce a given quantity sold by the French.
Self-sufficiency agriculture in the south was rescheduled
under the constraint of economies of scale. The destruction
of the traditional economy led to famine; one had excess
cotton but a lack of basic food.
When Chad was declared independent in August 1960,
leaders from the southern regions took power after
negotiating with the French since 1956. The first president,
Francois Tombalbaye, leader of Chad's Progressive Party,
PTT, was unable to unite the country whose borders were an
expression of the colonizers' abuses.
Chad's National Liberation Front, FROLINAT, founded in
1966, was defeated by French forces. FROLINAT emerged as a
result of social tensions and after a peasant uprising in
the south facing Cotonfran, a French company that
had a monopoly on cotton exports. FROLINAT had its primary
political base among the people of the north.
In 1970, FROLINAT controlled 2/3 of the country and in
1972 the siege of the capital began. Tombalbaye died in 1975
in connection with a coup d'état, inspired by the French,
who led General Felix Malloum to power. The resistance
movement's offensive continued and France tried to exploit
the faction of the movement, which at that time was composed
of more than 10 groups.
France provided assistance to Hisséne Habré against
FROLINAT President Goukouni Oueddei, who in return received
assistance from Libya's Muamar-al-Khaddafi. Habré led the
Armed Northern Forces, FAN, and Oueddei led the People's
In 1977, Paris sent 3,000 soldiers and fighter planes to
Chad. The French government stated that the French forces in
Chad would remain neutral compared to the two rival armed
groups in FROLINAT. At the same time, Malloum's government
appointed Habré as prime minister.
The 11 largest groups jointly formed in 1979 a
transitional government, GUNT. Habré was appointed Minister
of Defense, but it was not a solution that hampered France,
which sought to defend both the strategic interests of the
Mahgreb and partly because of the deposits of uranium and
oil that had been found during the 1960s. In March 1980,
Habré resigned, broke out of the alliance, and embarked on a
civil war that consolidated his position of power in the
GUNT split into three groups. In May 1980, Oueddei, who
led the FAP, requested Libya for help and sent 2,000
After Habré's forces had bombed N'Djamena, about 100,000
fled to other countries. Following the failed negotiations
led by the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the Libyan
forces reached the capital in October 1980. In December,
Habré fled to Cameroon.