From a NYT article about a World Bank oil proposal:
Chad, one of Africa's poorest countries, has a long history of instability and bloodshed. A vast, arid land about three times the size of California, it is home to 10 million people.
A majority of its citizens rely on subsistence agriculture and animal herding. It ranks 167 of 177 nations on the United Nations Development Index. Transparency International's 2005 survey of corruption around the world gave it the worst score, an ignominy it shares with Bangladesh.
Since gaining independence from France in 1960, it has been tormented by civil wars fueled by ethnic and religious tensions. Like Sudan, its restive neighbor to the east, its northern population is largely Muslim and has dominated the country's politics, while its southern half is largely Christian and animist.
Mr. Déby's rule has been a relatively stable period in the country's history, but the troubles in the Darfur region of Sudan, which borders eastern Chad, have spilled over into Chad along with 300,000 refugees. Internal divisions, along with reports of Mr. Déby's failing health, have led to much speculation that the government is on shaky ground.
I lived there for three years. It's where I went through adolescence, had my first crush, and started my menses. It's where I lived through three coup d'etats (the first two were unsuccessful; the last one was by Mr. Deby), saw my first machine gun, and saw the dead lying in the streets. It's where my mother almost died from tropical diseases. It's where I ran with a pack of half-feral dogs and swam in a crocodile-infested river. It's where one of my best friends was married to a man older than my grandfather, who beat her. It's where I saw a man die slowly, by inches, in the back seat of our truck, because the roads were too bad to get him to the hospital in the capital city quickly enough.
Idris Deby has done very good things in Chad, beginning when he opened the secret prisons and let the disappeared go home again. I'll pray for his health, and hope that Allah will welcome him with wide-open arms to Paradise.