Chad (MNN) – The fall of oil prices rocked many national economies since 2014. With 60-70 percent of its revenue coming from the sale of oil, Chad was no exception. Over the last four years, the nation has been running out of money, and tension has been building. And now, the nation is at a breaking point.
Protests, strikes, and arrests
Early in January, the government announced they would be putting significant cuts on government employees’ salaries. This resulted in a series of protests and strikes.
Just a couple of weeks ago, several students were arrested after protesting the potential salary cuts of teachers. Schools were closed, and the internet was temporarily cut down in an attempt to inhibit communication about future strikes. However, unless something drastic is done, and quick, the government will soon not be able to pay their employees, anyway.
Meanwhile, transport workers have also gone on strike due to increased fuel prices.
The strikes against these austerity measures continue. Last week, private doctors reportedly joined the general strike in solidarity with government-paid doctors, continuing the strike into Monday.
Darfurian refugees in Chad. (Photo courtesy of European Commission DG ECHO via Flickr)
Chad is the recipient of various monetary aid programs through the World Bank, the EU, the African Development Bank, and more. They are also enrolled in an aid program through the International Monetary Fund. Chad is under pressure from the latter group to cut costs in order to continue to receive aid.
The nation’s revenue from income tax and customs is nearly equal the government’s payroll. This is why salaries have been a point of discussion, controversial though it may be.
Already, nearly half of the population lives in poverty. Portions of Chad are plagued with terrorism at the hands of Boko Haram. While trying to deal with those concerns at home, the country has also assisted the African Union with troops in peacekeeping operations in other countries in the region. Chad is also a host country for refugees from Sudan, CAR, Nigeria, and more. This has put a significant financial strain on the government as they’ve struggled to fund refugee programs.
The nation is in a state of social and economic failure and the people are not happy.
Praying for a nation on the verge of violence
Earlier this week, we received a text from our contact on the ground saying, “There are several people here from Chad and [Monday night] they announced that they just learned that [Tuesday] there will be a revolt in Chad and there is expected to be much bloodshed and suspect thousands will be killed.”
Indeed, Chad is no stranger to revolts and uprisings. The most recent protests are a direct response to the austerity measures being pursued by the government.
And so, Chadians are shaken and nervous. Tensions are on the rise.
We spoke to a Christian worker in Chad to get his take on the situation and to get some prayer requests.
He says, “Right now the situation is civil servants or workers in the government are not happy for what is going on, so they stopped going to the work. So, now the government is trying to see how they can … settle the situation.”
He describes a nation in confusion and outcry as the government wobbles back and forth on what steps to take next. He says they need God to bring a solution to this negative situation.
“But now in all the mind of the people, they want to see the presidency depart to another person. But how?”
In 2005, Chad’s president ended constitutional term limits and was re-elected for another term. The electoral process has been criticized in the past for not being fair. The Christian worker we spoke to said the army is also a significant tool helping the president maintain power.
“The population [is] also afraid so we wonder exactly from where we can get this solution from,” he says.
He asks you to be praying, “That the government has wisdom to see [another] way to settle the situation. Let them look for the good way to settle the situation than cutting the salaries. And international partners like World Bank and all other, let them give a good advice to the president to see how he can work on the situation.”
And finally, he adds, “Pray because even churches there are becoming weak… let the pastors come together so that they can pray for their country.”
Will you pray for Gospel peace to inundate this country during this tumultuous time? Ask God to strengthen his Church so that believers could be an example of love and peace and hope.
If you’d like more ways to pray for Chad, pray along with Prayercast, here.