So this morning, as part of our on-going series, Africa at 50, we looked at how independent Chad really is. And we began with some thoughts from the streets of the capital, N'Djamena.
Over the years, the French Military has been a powerful player in Chadian politics. It's a strong supporter of the current President, General Idriss Déby. Under President Déby's rule, Chad has become one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Despite its new-found oil wealth, it's also one of the poorest. And there have been attempts to push President Déby out of office.
Two-and-a-half years ago, rebels stormed the Presidential palace and nearly overthrew the government. Many observers believe the regime would have fallen if it hadn't been for the French soldiers stationed in the capital. Acheikh Ibn-Oumar represents the Union of Forces of the Resistance, a coalition of rebel forces that led the attack. He was in Paris.
For a broader perspective on the relationship between Chad and France, we were joined by Roland Marchal. He studies French policy in Africa at the Centre for International Studies and Research at Sciences-Po University in Paris.
We requested an interview with the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We were told that no one from the ministry could be made available to speak with us. But Colonel Bruno Maigret agreed to join us. He's the Commander of l'Épervier, the French military force in Chad. He was in the capital, N'Djamena.
And we gave the last word on the subject to President Idriss Déby. Last week, he suggested that it might be time for Chad to re-think its military ties with France. We aired a clip.