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The First Chadian Civil War started in 1965 and ended in 1979, with riots and insurgency against Chadian president François Tombalbaye's rule, known for its authoritarianism and distrust of democracy.

Chadian Civil War (1965–1979)
Date1 November 1965 – November 1979
Result Rebel victory, overthrow of François Tombalbaye in Chadian coup of 1975
Flag of Frolinat.svg FROLINAT
Flag of Chad.svg GUNT
Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Libya
Commanders and leaders
Flag of Frolinat.svg Ibrahim Abatcha 
Flag of Frolinat.svg Hissène Habré
Flag of Frolinat.svg Goukouni Oueddei
Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Muammar al-Gaddafi
Chad François Tombalbaye 
Casualties and losses
3,450 Chadians, 50 French[1]


By January 1962, Tombalbaye had banned all political parties except his own Chadian Progressive Party (PPT), and started immediately concentrating all power in his own hands. His treatment of opponents, real or imagined, was extremely harsh, filling the prisons with thousands of political prisoners. What was even worse was his constant discrimination against the central and northern regions of Chad, where the southern Chadian administrators came to be perceived as arrogant and incompetent. It cost Chad 3,450 Chadians and 50 French.

The war beginsEdit

This resentment at last exploded in Mangalmé riots, a tax revolt on November 1, 1965, in the Guéra Prefecture, causing 500 deaths. The year after saw the birth in Sudan of the National Liberation Front of Chad (FROLINAT), created to militarily oust Tombalbaye and the Southern dominance. It was the start of a bloody civil war. Tombalbaye then, to try and pacify the people, granted limited autonomy to northern Muslim leaders and released several political prisoners. These changes only added more leaders and rebels to the growing movement.

Tombalbaye resorted to calling in French troops; while moderately successful, they were not fully able to quell the insurgency. Proving more fortunate[editorializing] was his choice to break with the French and seek friendly ties with Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi, taking away the rebels' principal source of supplies.


But while he had reported some success against the rebels, Francois Tombalbaye started behaving more and more irrationally and brutally, continuously eroding his consensus among the southern elites, which dominated all key positions in the army, the civil service and the ruling party. As a consequence on April 13, 1975, several units of N'Djamena's gendarmerie killed Tombalbaye during a coup.

On 15 April the former commander of the national army, Felix Malloum, who had been arrested on 24 June 1973 under orders from Tombalbaye, became chairman of the Supreme Military Council; the supreme body responsible for running the country. He became head of state a few months later. As a southerner with strong kinship ties to the north, Malloum believed that he could reconcile Chad's divided regions and establish representative institutions. He set a high priority on freeing Chad from French economic and political control, but in this effort he was unsuccessful. He sent French combat forces home, but he retained several hundred French advisers and renegotiated a series of military accords to ensure emergency aid. In his position he requested the removal of French military units from Chad, resulting in France abandoning the 172 Fort-Lamy Air Base at N'Djamena International Airport.

Military GovernmentEdit

During the summer of 1977, FROLINAT rebels under the command of Goukouni Oueddeï and supported by Libya launched a military offensive from northern Chad. This offensive witnessed the first appearance of modern Soviet military equipment in the civil war. For the first time, aircraft were threatened by a strong air defense artillery: two aircraft of the Chadian air force were shot down in the Tibesti: a C-47 by a 14.5 mm and a DC-4 by a SA-7. This forced President Malloum to seek the help of France. The latter implements the support operation that halted the rebels in southern Chad at the price of eighteen French military dead and the loss of two SEPECAT Jaguar 5 aircraft.

Following the Khartoum agreement of 1977, Habré and the Armed Forces of the North came together to oust Felix Malloum. Habré was appointed Prime Minister August 29, 1978. He attempted a coup in February 1979, but did not succeed. Goukouni Oueddei, head of the People's Armed Forces (originally composed of the union in March 1978 Frolinat - Interim Joint Military Committee, the Army Volcano and Frolinat - 1st Army), helped him in February, despite his differences with him, in overthrowing the "Southern" government. In November 1979, Goukouni Oueddei, leader of the People's Armed Forces, seized power and became president of the Transitional Government of National Unity, northerners supported by different factions close to Habré, triggering the Second Chadian Civil War.

Faced with the impossibility of reconciling the various factions vying for power, French forces left Chad on 6 May 1980.

See alsoEdit