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Hissène Habré


Hissène Habré (born 1942), was the leader of Chad from 1982 until he was deposed in 1990. He has been indicted for crimes against humanity, and is currently living in exile in Senegal.

More by user: kwyly
Created: 16th May 2008
Modified: 1st Jan 1970
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Hissène Habré
(At a Glance)
Gender: male
Place of Origin: Chad
Habré was born in 1942 in Chad, then a colony of France. He is a member of the Anakaza branch of the Gorane (Toubou) ethnic group. After primary schooling, he obtained a post in the French colonial administration, and later studied political science in Paris through a scholarship. He returned to Chad in 1971. After a further brief period of government service, he joined the Forces Armées du Nord (Armed Forces of the North, FAN), an armed Chadian rebel movement. FAN operated in the extreme north of Chad, among the Toubou nomadic people, and was led by Goukouni Oueddei. Habré fought with FAN under Oueddei for a number of years before eventually splitting in the late 1970's.

On 29 August 1978, Habré was given the post of prime minister of Chad, sreving under President Félix Malloum, the sitting president since 1975. Habré's term as prime minister ended, however, a year later, when Malloum's government ended. Elections brought Goukouni Oueddei to the presidency.

Oueddei's rule did not last long, as Habré rose to power in 1982 and deposed Oueddei. As president, Habré was responsible for a number of atrocities and human rights violations. "It is estimated that Habré's government carried out 40,000 politically-motivated killings and over 200,000 cases of torture, that have led Human Rights Watch to dub him 'Africa's Pinochet.'" He created the secret police force, the Documentation and Security Directorate (DSD) which have since been documented as organizing and carrying out a number of atrocities. Human Rights Watch states that the "files of Habré's political police, the DDS, which were discovered by Human Rights Watch in 2001, ( reveal the names of 1,208 persons who were killed or died in detention. A total of 12,321 victims of human rights violations were mentioned in the files." This trend of abuse characterized Habré's one-party regime which was marked by widespread atrocities, including waves of ethnic campaigns. It also is believed that thousands of people from tribes Habré thought hostile to the regime were killed.

On 15 December 1980, the ongoing war with Libya deepened as troops occupied all of northern Chad. Habré defeated Libyan troops however, and drove them out in November 1981. In 1983, Libyan troops returned and the United States used a clandestine base in Chad to train captured Libyan soldiers whom it was organizing into an anti-Gaddafi force. The USA provided military aid and gave support to the DSD. The Libyan occupation of the north of Koro Toro ended when Habré defeated him in 1987, and the war was officially over by 1988. Habré's aid from the USA and France helped him to win the war against Gaddafi's Libya.

Despite this victory, Habré's government was weak, and strongly opposed by members of the Zaghawa ethnic group. A rebel offensive in November 1990, which was led by Idriss Déby, a Zaghawa former army commander who had participated in a plot against Habré in 1989 and subsequently fled to Sudan, defeated Habré's forces. Habré fled to Cameroon, and the rebels entered N'Djamena on December 2, 1990; Habré subsequently went into exile in Senegal where he has remained since.

Hissène Habré ruled Chad from 1982 until he was deposed in 1990 by President Idriss Déby Itno and fled to Senegal. He has been widely acknowledged to be responsible for gross human rights violations, and a number of atrocities during his time in power. Many parties (victims, human rights groups, governments, etc) have called for his arrest and trial.Habré was first indicted in Senegal in 2000 before courts ruled that he could not be tried there. His victims then turned to Belgium and, after a four-year investigation, a Belgian judge in September 2005 charged Habré with crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture. Pursuant to the Belgian extradition request, Senegalese authorities arrested Habré in November 2005. The Senegalese government then asked the African Union to recommend how to try Habré. On July 2, 2006, the African Union, called on Senegal to prosecute Habré "in the name of Africa," and Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade declared that Dakar would do so. This pledge however, has not yet been honored by Senegal. This has led to much criticism of Senegal, stating that it is lacking the political will to either extradite or try him for his crimes.

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